Vancouver Whitecaps FC are currently in one of the toughest spells of their season and it's testing Carl Robinson's squad depth to the max.
The 'Caps have one match left of a four-game road stretch that has seen them already endure the Texas heat for MLS matches in Houston and Dallas, and a trip to the Caribbean to face Central FC in CONCACAF Champions League action. It doesn't get any easier with a trip to the altitude of Colorado coming up on Saturday (6 p.m. PT - live on TSN2/TSN 1040).
With two games in a three-day period this week, Robinson has found himself using 22 players from his MLS squad and calling up four players from the 'Caps USL side for last night's Champion's League win. Robinson has already stated that this weekend's game with the Rapids "will be a totally different team again." It's why clubs have squads, of course.
"Football nowadays is not about 11 players, it's about a squad of players," Robinson believes. "I've assembled a very strong squad, group of players, and I want players who can play in multiple positions."
One such player is the latest Whitecaps FC signing Giles Barnes, and the former Houston Dynamo captain is expected to be part of that "different team" put out to face the Rapids on Saturday.
- Scouting report: A closer look at Giles Barnes
Barnes' acquisition late on Saturday night surprised many, but he's a player Robinson has been after for a while, and one the 'Caps coach feels compliments the talent he currently has at his disposal and will be a key component to the 'Caps playoff push.
"Giles can do that," Robinson said of his new signing's positional adaptability. "I've known Giles for a number of years. I tried to get him two times prior to being able to get him this time. He'll add to all the attacking forwards that we have, because we need to try and get results to shoot us up the league. We're delighted to have him on board. He's an exceptional player and he will make us stronger."
With the transfer out of Designated Player Octavio Rivero to Chilean club Colo Colo, the 'Caps find themselves with a vacant DP spot.
Fans looking for that position to be filled quickly look like having to wait until January, but Robinson once again was keen to point out that acquiring players like Barnes fits Vancouver's team mentality better, than going out to make a splash on one highly paid, big name.
"There's no star players in my team," Robinson added. "Everyone is a star in my team and the team is the star. That's what I preach to them day in and day out and that won't change."
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