VANCOUVER, BC – As Carl Robinson put it: “Now the fun starts.”
They’re still awaiting an opponent, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC kicked off preparations for the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday on UBC.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
‘WHY NOT VANCOUVER?’
It’s been a great season for Whitecaps FC, who won their first-ever Voyageurs Cup, reached a new MLS club record in points, and secured a first home playoff match, but it’s a new season now.
Robinson made it no secret that one of the goals this year was to host a playoff game, which will become a reality on November 8 at BC Place. But that doesn’t mean it’s “job done” for the ‘Caps.
Far from it.
“Let’s not just go in there and not fight, and not scrap, and not give it our everything,” Robinson said. “Sometimes in life you get an opportunity. Why not Vancouver? That will be my message to not just the players but everyone in the city. Why not? We haven’t done it before. We know that. But there are a number of other teams that haven’t done it before. So why can’t we be that team?”
Russell Teibert, who has been with the ‘Caps since day one, was singing a similar tune.
“All year long, we’ve said we wanted to make history,” he said. “I think everybody in our locker room believed that and now we’re starting to make other people believe as well.”
One player who has been longing for an MLS Cup is veteran midfielder Mauro Rosales.
This is the 34-year-old’s fifth season in the league and he has qualified for the playoffs in each of them, but he has yet to reach the MLS Cup Finals.
“Hopefully this is the one I get through,” Rosales said.
‘THE MOST FUN I’VE HAD IN MY CAREER’
Jordan Harvey is another player who has paid his dues in this league.
In fact, he’s the most experienced MLS player on the team – the 31-year-old started his 200th regular season match this past weekend. He’s also been with Whitecaps FC since their inaugural season, and you could sense his excitement on Tuesday about the impending playoff run.
“This year has felt different from the very beginning,” Harvey said. “With Robbo taking over and starting his process in year one, and kind of seeing it come to fruition in year two, and potentially year three and four blowing up, I think you see the pieces coming together. I know we still have a young group and a bright future, but right now I think it’s very possible to go on a run and win it.”
Whether or not that happens, Harvey said there’s no place he’d rather be.
“This is the most fun I’ve had in my career,” he told reporters. “And the most success. I know that kind of goes hand in hand sometimes. But even had we not gotten this first round bye, I would have said the same thing. This group, this staff, this organization … it’s really been a pleasure to be a part of. And I just hope we can make a run and I hope to be here until my career is over.”
Naturally, one of the first questions Robinson received on Tuesday was about the status of captain Pedro Morales (hamstring). The Chilean attacking midfielder, who did some individual work with the physio on the sidelines, hasn’t played since October 3.
So does he have a chance at playing in the upcoming series?
“He does,” Robinson said. “He’ll step up his training this week. It gives us a little bit of extra time with not just Pedro but a number of guys. Yeah, he’ll be involved.”
Robinson also said that Nicolas Mezquida (hamstring) will be “ready to go.”
In other injury news, centre back Pa-Modou Kah did not train on Tuesday.
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