de Jong Ghazal Teibert 2018 unity kit
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Three quiet leaders on the 'Caps

This Sunday Whitecaps FC kick off their 2018 MLS season against Canadian rivals Montreal Impact at BC Place (3 p.m. PT). Tickets remain available at ticketmaster.ca/whitecapsfc.

Today we look at three quiet leaders on the team.

Marcel de Jong

What Robbo says: “Marcel is a quiet leader. He is a terrific player, technically very good. He’s at a good age, with good experience, and good breeding from when he played in Europe. He’s ready to take that step to the next level.”

The skinny: A regular on the Canadian national team with nearly a decade of experience playing at the top levels in the Netherlands and Germany.

The Newmarket, Ontario native first joined Whitecaps FC in 2016 and pushed Jordan Harvey at left back for the past two seasons. After a very strong Gold Cup for Canada last summer, his hard work paid off and he returned to the ‘Caps in fine form, finding his way into the starting lineup by the end of the year.

Now he looks set to start on the left side of the backline, bringing his savvy presence to the squad.

The stats: The left-footed fullback made nine total regular season starts in 2017, but eight of those came in the final 15 matches, followed by starts in all three playoff games. His lone assist came on a long-ball to Yordy Reyna in a September 13 win over Minnesota. With his terrific ball delivery, expect more assists to come from de Jong in 2018.

Aly Ghazal

What Robbo says: “Aly is also a quiet leader who gets after it on the pitch. He may not be loud off the pitch, but when he’s on the field he’s talking and communicating. He does all of the ugly, dirty work – a bit like Matías Laba did for us. He doesn’t get many headlines, but he’s very important to the team.”

The skinny: An intimidating force in the centre of the park, the 6-foot-2 Ghazal made his presence felt quickly once he got into the ‘Caps lineup.

The Egyptian, the first player from his country to captain a top level European club, is keen to get back into the mix for his national team before this summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup. So expect him to bring even more focus and determination to the pitch this year.

The stats: Ghazal’s seven regular season starts all came in the final nine matches after joining the team in August, going on to start all three playoff games. His 3.1 interceptions per game was the best in the league, according to WhoScored.com. His best season at Nacional in Portugal came in 2014-15 when he started 28 matches, scoring one goal and recording one assist.

Russell Teibert

What Robbo says: “Rusty is a young leader. He is an excellent example of what every professional should be. He does his talking on the pitch, he always does the work that is required and then he does extra work on top of that. I see every day in training that he is a terrific footballer, and now he will be trying to replicate that into games.”

The skinny: The longest serving member of the club, Teibert has re-signed with the ‘Caps through 2020. He’s come to love the City of Vancouver, which he has called home since first joining the Residency program 10 years ago. That passion is clear to see on the field.

A strong preseason has him in contention to start on opening day and, as he always does, show fans how much it means to him to wear the ‘Caps crest.

The stats: At 25-years-old, the Niagara Falls native has already made 114 MLS regular season appearances. The past two seasons have seen eight starts in each year, however from 2013 to 2015 Teibert made 19, 22, and 15 starts respectively. His most productive attacking season came in 2013 when he recorded two goals and nine assists.