VANCOUVER, BC – And we’re back! Not for long, however.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC officially kicked off their 2017 preseason with a training session at UBC on Monday. The team will now travel to the United Kingdom this evening for an 11-day camp that will include friendlies against Bristol City FC, Cardiff City FC, and Oxford United FC.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
‘CAPS ACQUIRE REYNA
The big news of the day was Vancouver’s acquisition of Yordy Reyna, a 23-year-old Peruvian who assistant coach Martyn Pert described as “dynamic and explosive.” Reyna can play a number of different positions, but Pert said he sees him primarily in the middle of the park as a striker or attacking midfielder.
“He can play as a nine, maybe dropping in, and he can play as a 10,” Pert told reporters. “I think his best position is certainly in the central areas.”
Reyna is expected to join the team in Wales upon receipt of his UK visa.
After spending the last 10 days with the U.S. men’s national team in California, Kekuta Manneh returned to Vancouver on Sunday and will travel with the team to Wales. Manneh, now 22, enters 2017 as motivated as ever after missing the final four months of last season with a foot injury.
“It’s always hard for me to watch games not being involved,” Manneh told reporters. “Even when I’m on the bench, it’s never a fun feeling … it’s been a while, I’m really excited that I’m finally back training and getting ready for the games. I can’t wait.”
Depending on where Manneh is deployed this season, he could be competing for minutes with 16-year-old Alphonso Davies, who burst onto the MLS scene around the same time that Manneh suffered the injury last season. Already on Monday, it was one of the storylines that emerged with the speedsters lined up on opposite teams during the small-sided games.
“It’s a challenge, and I’m always looking forward to a challenge,” Manneh said. “It’s also good for the club, having two younger guys fighting for minutes. He’s a great kid, very talented. For me as an individual, he’s going to push me and help the team as well. Hopefully I can play with him too.”
OFF TO WALES
“No days off.”
That’s what Jordan Harvey said he expected of the group leading into the start of the 2017 season. The ‘Caps are preparing for a tough and competitive camp in Wales, which is specifically why the team is headed there rather than Arizona like in previous years.
“It’s been really good going down there, and we may revisit it at a later time, but we need those games that are a little sharper, playing against different oppositions, so it gives you a bit more excitement in the game and also they’re in the middle of their season,” Pert said of the upcoming friendlies in the UK. "They’re not just feeling their way into it. They’re a little bit sharper.”
“We start off fast this year,” added goalkeeper David Ousted. “We start off with New York [in the Champions League] and a really important one for us both as a team and as a club. It’s about everybody putting the work in now so we’re ready for that.”