VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training on Tuesday at UBC after a long week on the road that ended with a heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Sporting Kansas City.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
SMITH’S FIRST SESSION
Recently-acquired right back Jordan Smith, who joined the team in Kansas City, took part in his first training session on Tuesday.
And he made quite the first impression, scoring a long-distance cracker in a mini scrimmage.
“He’s a big boy, he’s athletic, he’s very comfortable on the ball and obviously he scores a couple of goals as well,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. “It’s nice to have him in the group. It will provide a little bit of competition in the right back area and keep Beita on his toes.”
Smith, who spoke to media through an interpreter, said his first few days with the team have been “great” and that “everyone is part of a big family.”
The 24-year-old Costa Rican said countrymate Kendall Waston has been showing him the ropes, which has made for an easier transition. Smith and Waston played together with Saprissa and the Costa Rican national team.
“He’s been a great resource,” Smith said. “He showed me around the city, he showed me the stadium, and he took me to his house. It’s really nice to have that familiarity when you step into a new environment.”
Whitecaps FC announced today that the club has re-signed captain Pedro Morales to a multi-year contract extension.
Here’s what Robinson had to say on the news.
“We’re trying to build,” Robinson said. “I said to you 18 months ago, you’ve got to build a foundation. You have to put building blocks in place … we don’t want to lose our top players. We’ve done that before and it hurts. So we’re going to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. Pedro will be the first of hopefully a couple we’ll try to tie down.”
Morales, who has scored a free kick goal in three of his last four games, has appeared as a sub in Vancouver’s last four MLS matches as he continues to get back to match fitness. The 30-year-old Chilean previously missed five matches with a calf injury.
But now, Robinson said his skipper is looking “super fit” and putting pressure on the group that has been starting as of late. On that note, could we potentially see a lineup with both Morales and Nicolas Mezquida, who has been playing in the #10 role, in it?
“It’s stuff we’ve talked about,” Robinson answered. “Unfortunately, Pedro had been out for six to eight weeks. Now he’s back to full health, I’m sure you’ll see that at some stage.”
Centre back Pa-Modou Kah did not train on Tuesday, after picking up what Robinson confirmed to be a facial fracture against SKC. However, Robinson said he would be back to training on Thursday and has an “outside chance” for Saturday’s match against FC Dallas.
“We need to find him a Zorro mask,” Robinson said. “It would be brilliant.”
Robinson said the team held a “very constructive” meeting prior to training on Tuesday, where they discussed the events of Saturday’s heartbreaking loss.
“Let me tell you, it hurts,” Robinson told reporters. “But we’re over that disappointment. The intensity in training was great. To enjoy success, you’ve got to deal with heartbreak sometimes. It was a tough one to take on Saturday. It really was. But you get on with it.”
And that’s what they intend to do on Saturday when FC Dallas come to town in another important Western Conference tilt at BC Place (7 p.m. PT – tickets still available).
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