VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training on Tuesday at UBC after suffering a weekend defeat at the hands of D.C. United.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
The ‘Caps bounced back with victories after each of their previous two defeats this season and they will be hoping to make it three for three on Saturday night, when they visit Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers at Providence Park (7:30 p.m. PT kickoff – TSN, RDS2 and TSN 1410 radio).
“It’s big for the fans and it’s also big for the players,” left back Sam Adekugbe said of the Cascadia rivalry. “But it’s a matter of us being calm and letting the fans bring the noise … when we play Portland it’s more of a physical battle than a tactical battle, but we have to bring our composure and let the football do the talking.”
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters that centre back Diego Rodriguez suffered a “minor setback” after returning to training on Tuesday. The Uruguayan centre back left the April 8 match vs. Columbus with a quad strain and has been sidelined ever since.
“He just has a slight issue again so rather than taking any risks we pulled him out of the session,” Robinson said. “He’s obviously down because he was trying to make himself available for the weekend but that might be too early.”
“I think anyone that knows Diego knows what it means to him to get himself fit and play,” Robinson added. “He more than anyone wanted to be ready for this weekend. He’s pushed himself to the limits to get to the point where he’s ready to train and he has done that. Unfortunately, sometimes with injuries you have minor setbacks but hopefully it’s not too bad.”
Buckle up, because it’s going to be a busy month for the Blue and White.
Robinson’s side will play a total of seven matches in May, including a pair of Amway Canadian Championship fixtures. The ‘Caps are set to open the tournament next Wednesday, May 6 on the road at either FC Edmonton or Ottawa Fury FC.
So how does Robinson plan to manage his squad?
“Everyone will get to play,” Robinson said. “I’ll make a number of changes. Obviously, we have a very big game on Saturday and the guys who play on Saturday probably won’t play on the Wednesday. So you can probably piece together who’s going to be playing on the Wednesday. It’s not about what we’re doing at this moment, it’s about thinking ahead as well with international callups and such in mind.”
All eyes will be on Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night, when Montreal Impact take on Club América in the decisive second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final (5 p.m. PT kickoff – Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet World). The Impact are expecting a sold-out crowd of 61,004, which would set a new record attendance for professional soccer in Canada.
No MLS team has ever won the CCL in its current format, but Montreal are very much in the driver’s seat after earning a hard-fought 1-1 road draw in the first leg last week.
“It makes me chuckle because against Edmonton, I believe, they were on the verge of going out in the last minute,” Robinson told reporters last week. “It’s funny. Football is about fine lines and that proves it, doesn’t it?”
“They’re representing the entire MLS right now and they’re representing Canada too,” added Russell Teibert. “For a Canadian champion to go that far, to do so well, it’s big for us. I just wish them the best.”
It won’t be long now until Teibert and the ‘Caps open their own Champions League campaign. After finishing as the top Canadian MLS team last season, Whitecaps FC will compete in the 2015-16 edition of the tournament, which is set to begin in August. The draw for the group stage is typically held in late May or early June.
“It gives us hope,” Teibert said of Montreal’s CCL run. “They’re the first ones to go that far, but that’s just the beginning. I think it’s going to happen more and more as the years go by.”
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