Three down, three to go.
After opening the preseason with three straight wins in Tucson, Arizona, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are off to Portland today for three more matches as part of the 2016 Simple Invitational, which will serve as a final tune-up before First Kick on March 6.
All three matches will be streamed on whitecapsfc.com and air on TSN 1040 radio.
WHITECAPS FC 2016 SIMPLE INVITATIONAL SCHEDULE
- Sunday, Feb. 21 vs. Chicago Fire: 2:30 p.m. PT
- Wednesday, Feb. 24 vs. Portland Timbers: 7:30 p.m. PT
- Saturday, Feb. 27 vs. Minnesota United FC (NASL): 2:30 p.m. PT
As with any preseason, part of the focus so far has been fitness.
And, in that regard, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson is pleased with how things are progressing.
“The guys are in very, very good shape at the moment,” Robinson told reporters earlier this week. “They’re hurting. They’re very sore, which you need to be because you’ve got to feel pain to understand what it’s like and not go back that way. We’re in a good place. We’ve still got a lot of building to do. Over the next two weeks, we’ll click up a gear.”
Just don’t expect Robinson to tip his hand when it comes to a starting lineup for March 6 – at least, not right away. For the first two games in Portland, Robinson said he’ll continue experimenting with formations and personnel to make sure everyone maintains a “hunger and energy” in their play.
“Having said that, in a week’s time, in our final game it will probably resemble as close to a (March 6) starting lineup as I can,” he said. “But competition for places will go right down to the wire.”
Robinson will be bringing a smaller group to Portland than he did in Tucson, but there will once again be a few youngsters from WFC2 and the Residency program.
WFC2 midfielder Brett Levis, who has been playing at left back this preseason, will once again make the trip – as will WFC2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey, 17-year-old WFC2 fullback Kadin Chung and 15-year-old Residency forward Alphonso Davies. There will also be a few new faces in the form of 17-year-old WFC2 midfielder Thomas Gardner and 18-year-old Residency defender Matthew Baldisimo.
Former 'Caps goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi will also make the trip as a training camp invitee.
This will be the third straight year Whitecaps FC participate in Portland’s annual preseason tournament. They finished as the top team in each of the past two years.
WHITECAPS FC 2016 PRESEASON STATISTICS (after three matches)
Goals: Darren Mattocks (2), Marco Bustos, Deybi Flores, Masato Kudo, Kekuta Manneh
Assists: Marco Bustos, Alphonso Davies*, Blas Perez, Octavio Rivero, Cristian Techera
*Whitecaps FC Residency player