“It’s been a long time coming": Henry sharp in his first appearance

With captain Kendall Waston away representing Costa Rica at the FIFA World Cup, the ‘Caps needed someone to step in and solidify the centre back position.

Canadian Doneil Henry received the call on Friday in Colorado, and he answered with a good performance in a 2-1 road win.

It’s been a long road back for Henry, who struggled with injuries during his time playing in Europe before joining Whitecaps FC in December. With both Henry and the club knowing that Waston would be away, he spent the last month on loan playing with Ottawa Fury in the USL to gain match sharpness.

“It’s been a long time coming, sometimes frustrating. But I give it to Robbo, I give it to Julian [de Guzman], I give it to Nikola [Popovic] in Ottawa for giving me the confidence to play and to continue to trust the process,” Henry said after the match. “I just wanted to continue to take my rehab very seriously, trust in the process, and continue to go.”

The 6-foot-2 defender had game-highs in interceptions (4) and blocks (3), while his 15 clearances were tied with centre back partner José Aja, who also had a very strong performance. In fact, it was an entirely new backline for the ‘Caps with Jake Nerwinski returning to right back and Brek Shea stepping in for an injured Marcel de Jong at left back.

“Terrific, absolutely terrific Doneil Henry and José,” said head coach Carl Robinson after the match. “It was a brand new back four from last week. Obviously we conceded the one goal, which I think was avoidable with a bad headed clearance. Credit to the guys for hanging in there.”

Goalkeeper Brian Rowe – who gobbled up crosses all night to avert any danger from the Rapids – didn’t have to register an official save in the victory, which is credit to the players working hard in front of him.

“It’s definitely fulfilling,” added Henry. “But this is just one game, it’s a long season. It comes down to consistency now, gelling as a team. The more comfortable we get, I’m telling you this team has a lot of quality.”

Whitecaps FC are back at BC Place next Saturday, June 9 when they host Orlando City SC at 4 p.m. PT. Tickets remain available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.