VANCOUVER, BC – Bring on March 6.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC kicked off their final week of training before Sunday’s season opener on Tuesday at UBC’s Ken Woods Field. Here are some news and notes from the day:
Tuesday’s session was a cold and wet one, but spirits were still high. The ‘Caps have been in preseason training for over a month now. It’s been a productive camp – they finished the preseason with a 5W-1L-0D record – but now they’re ready to get things going for real.
“I’m super excited about the weekend,” head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. “They’ve put a lot of hard work in from the start of the preseason until now. Now the six days build-up that we have will be more tactical. If you don’t look forward to it, or you can’t look forward to it, then there’s something wrong with you.”
Robinson said one of his biggest takeaways from the preseason was the number of young players who are already fighting for spots – something he didn’t necessarily expect so soon.
“Don’t be surprised if you see one or two young lads involved [on Sunday],” he added.
Despite finishing second in the Western Conference and third in all of MLS last year, experienced fullback Jordan Harvey says the ‘Caps “still have a lot to prove.” And with their new additions, Harvey feels the team is more than capable of doing just that in 2016.
“Our expectations have definitely risen,” Harvey told reporters. “We expect more.”
It’s been quite the week for Matias Laba.
The 24-year-old flew back from his native Argentina on Sunday – six days after the birth of his first child, Bautista Laba Freijomil. Then, Laba attended the team’s Season Launch Party on Monday night before training on Tuesday morning. You still couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
“The feeling was amazing,” he told reporters. “I’m very happy.”
Laba added that he’s hoping the birth of his first child will give him “more energy” and help him “become more professional.” And although Laba missed a week of training, Robinson isn’t worried about his star defensive midfielder one bit.
“He’s back in the groove now,” Robinson said. “We’ll get some extra work with him but Mati will be raring to go on Sunday. He’s one guy that never lets you down.”
ON THE MEND
Newcomer Masato Kudo trained in full on Tuesday after a medical condition kept him sidelined for a few weeks. Meanwhile, Kekuta Manneh and Nicolas Mezquida did some individual work on the sidelines, while Russell Teibert did not train.