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Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Test of depth: 'No excuses' for 'Caps despite international absences

VANCOUVER, BC – Depth.

It’s been a buzzword for Vancouver Whitecaps FC over the past few seasons – this year in particular. Many believe they have one of the deepest rosters in Major League Soccer.

And it’s about to be put to the test.

The ‘Caps will be missing several players due to international duty on Saturday when they host Houston Dynamo (7 p.m. PT at BC Place - tickets still available), including centre backs Tim Parker and Kendall Waston, midfielder Christian Bolaños, and striker Blas Pérez.

All four players started last weekend’s win in Seattle.

“We claim to have good depth to this team and we’ll be able to show it now,” Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted told reporters. “I have no problems with the guys coming in. The guys who are next in line are ready to step up. It shouldn’t be an excuse.”

The way Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson sees it, this just gives other players opportunities to step up and prove their worth – players such as midfielder Andrew Jacobson and striker Masato Kudo. Robinson suggested both could be involved on the weekend, adding that Kudo is “very close” to starting.

“One thing I did when I took the job was said I would never stop any international player from going away,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. “I was fortunate enough to do it and it’s a special moment to play for your country … if we’ve got to patch things up for this weekend, we’ll deal with it.”

INTERNATIONAL ‘CAPS

See below for a summary of this weekend’s international action. 

FRIDAY, MARCH 25

Canada vs. Mexico at BC Place (7 p.m. PT on TSN2): A crowd of over 50,000 is expected for this crucial World Cup qualifier at BC Place. The ‘Caps won’t have any players in action, but it’s a massive game for Canada’s hopes of advancing to the next round of World Cup qualifying. The Canadians currently trail Mexico by two points for the top spot in Group A.

Jamaica vs. Costa Rica at Independence Park in Kingston: Bolaños and Waston will be with Costa Rica as they continue their World Cup qualifying journey against Jamaica. As it stands, Costa Rica sit atop Group B with six points from two matches.

Haiti vs. Panama at Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince: Pérez and the Panamanians are currently second to Costa Rica in Group B with three points from two matches, while Haiti have yet to pick up a point. Pérez holds the third-most senior international caps for Panama with 102 appearances and is Panama’s second all-time leading scorer with 39 goals in his career.

U.S. U-23 vs. Colombia U-23: This home-and-home playoff series vs. Colombia is the last chance for the U.S. to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games. Parker is one of 11 MLS players on the American squad, and he’s embracing the challenge of leading his country back to the Olympics.

All four of these matchups will take place over two legs, with the second legs set for Tuesday, March 29.

SUNDAY, MARCH 27

Canada U-20 vs. England U-20 at Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster: Four ‘Caps were named to the Canadian roster for this youth friendly: midfielder Marco Bustos and goalkeeper Marco Carducci from the first team, and fullback Kadin Chung and midfielder/winger Alphonso Davies from WFC2. If you’re a fan of the English Premier League, you may recognize a name on the opposition too.

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING STANDINGS: CONCACAF REGION

The top two teams from each group will advance to the fifth round of qualifying for the CONCACAF region, also known as The Hex.

GROUP A

1. Mexico (2W-0L-0D): 6 points
2. Canada (1W-0L-1D): 4 points
3. El Salvador (0W-1L-1D): 1 point
4. Honduras (0W-2L-1D): 0 points

GROUP B

1. Costa Rica (2W-0L-0D): 6 points
2. Panama (1W-1L-0D): 3 points
3. Jamaica (1W-1L-0D): 3 points
4. Haiti (0W-2L-0D): 0 points

GROUP C

1. United States (1W-0L-1D): 4 points
2. Trinidad & Tobago: (1W-0L-1D): 4 points
3. Guatemala (1W-1L-0D): 3 points
4. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (0W-2L-0D): 0 points

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