Waston with armband
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Training report presented by Muscle MLK: Captain Kendall, injury updates, and more

VANCOUVER, BC – One Cascadia derby down. Another coming right up.

After a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC returned to training on Tuesday at the University of British Columbia with an eye towards Saturday’s clash with league-leading Portland Timbers (1 p.m. PT kickoff on CTV/TSN and TSN 1410).

Here are some news and notes from the day.

CAPTAIN KENDALL

Carl Robinson challenged Kendall Waston in the offseason. To be more disciplined. To be a leader. To be a captain. And so far this season, the Costa Rican has answered the call.

Through five matches, Waston is averaging a league-leading 10.4 clearances per game. Perhaps more importantly, he has yet to receive a card. And he’s coming off what may have been one of his best performances in a Whitecaps FC uniform in Friday’s victory over Seattle.

“Well, I take it as a big responsibility,” Waston said of the captaincy. “It’s an honour to wear the armband and being the captain of this team is very important. I don’t want to disappoint Robbo, who’s given me the opportunity to be the captain. And all my teammates, I don’t want to leave them with 10 men, running harder every game. This year we want to get to the playoffs and we need everybody.”

Robinson said Waston will remain the captain “unless something drastic changes.”

“He’s been very good,” Robinson said. “He and Timmy have both been outstanding at the start of the year. I look at Friday’s game as an example. With 10 minutes to go and Seattle are putting us under pressure, I wouldn’t want any other player in the box defending headers and clearances and that lot. He puts his body on the line. I think being captain has made him more responsible.”

ROAD TO RECOVERY

Three of Vancouver’s injured players appeared at training on Tuesday, as Marco Bustos (hamstring strain), Brett Levis (ACL tear), and Brek Shea (knee sprain) did some light jogging on the sidelines.

The appearance of Shea, in particular, was a nice addition, as it was initially thought that he could be out anywhere from six to 12 weeks after suffering the injury on April 5 vs. Tigres UANL.

“I think it’ll definitely be six,” Robinson told reporters. “It’s been fast-tracked. I don’t think it was originally bad as we first feared. Watching him today, I was actually asking, can he join in? I was told a clear no. It’s probably going to be a couple of weeks. Maybe our next home game, which is I think in about 345 days or something like that.”

Close, but not quite. The ‘Caps return to BC Place on May 20 vs. Sporting Kansas City.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

First, they have four tough away matches coming up – starting Saturday against Portland.

The Timbers are currently tied for the league-lead with 13 points through seven matches and have scored more goals than any either team (16).

“I think they’ve been the best team in the early part of the season,” Robinson told reporters. “Their goalscoring doesn’t lie.”

The Timbers, however, are coming off a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City at Providence Park, so they’ll be hoping to bounce back this weekend. And that should have the makings of another high-stakes, high-intensity, good old-fashioned derby.

And if Friday night was any indication, you won’t want to miss it.