VANCOUVER, BC – It’s been an injury-riddled season for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s centre backs, but things appear to be looking up as Brad Rusin returned to full training this week at UBC.
Head coach Martin Rennie said Rusin has done well in training over the past few days and is “pretty close” to returning to full fitness. The 6-foot-4 defender has been sidelined for over a month with a sprained right ankle suffered during the August 3rd match at Portland.
“I’m feeling good,” Rusin told whitecapsfc.com after Tuesday’s session. “Obviously, it’s going to take me a couple days to get my legs going and things like that. But it’s good to be back out here touching the ball again and being with the guys. I’m just trying to lift the group and be positive.”
Another centre back who is pushing for playing time before the end of the season is Jay DeMerit. The ‘Caps captain made Vancouver’s 18-man squad Saturday against Dallas for the first time since the season opener, though he did not see any minutes.
“He’s not ready yet,” Rennie told reporters. “He’s come back from a pretty serious injury. And to get back up to full match fitness and sharpness at this point in the season where everybody’s flying 100 per cent, it’s not going to be easy. But if someone could do it, it would be him. So we’ll certainly keep an open mind on it.”
As they gear up for an important Western Conference clash with San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, the 'Caps should receive a boost from the return of midfielder Russell Teibert and striker Darren Mattocks. Both players are expected to re-join the team on Thursday after spending time with their respective national teams.
Whitecaps FC U-23 fullback Emmanuel Adjetey is also expected to return to Vancouver later this week. The Ghanaian is coming off a successful season on loan with Charleston Battery of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Pro Division alongside fellow 'Caps players Bryce Alderson and Ben Fisk.
The former Whitecaps FC Residency standouts are currently away with Canada's U-21 team at the Francophone Games in Nice, France. Canada played three games during the group stage of the tournament – a 4-1 loss to France, a 1-0 win over Rwanda, and a 3-1 loss to Congo. Fisk and Alderson are expected to re-join the 'Caps upon the conclusion of the tournament.
Meanwhile, right back Beh Leandre Pacome joined the ‘Caps on trial this week in advance of Friday’s MLS roster freeze. The Ivory Coast native played 1,260 minutes in 14 appearances with now-dissolved Nashville Metros of the USL Premier Development League in 2011.
A number of Whitecaps FC supporters were treated to an exclusive viewing of Tuesday’s training session as part of the ‘Caps Card Loyalty Rewards program. They also received a VIP tour of the club’s UBC training centre and had the opportunity to mingle with players following the session.