VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC are preparing for a busy two weeks with five matches in four different cities between July 14-28.
Three games will be in Major League Soccer competition and two matches will be in a two-legged Canadian Championship affair against Canadian rivals Montreal Impact. In total, the ‘Caps will be covering over 10,000 kilometres during their travels.
Busy spells like this are moments where squad depth becomes a crucial factor.
“We have a really tough schedule coming up and it’s important everyone stays healthy,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “There will be lots of travel, so it’s important that all the squad will be used and rotated. We are on the far West Coast of the country, which we are okay with. We love living in Vancouver, it’s a beautiful city, but we do know it comes with its pitfalls. That’s why we carry a squad, a squad that needs to be rotated.”
Players in all kinds of position will be fighting for spots.
Up front, it will be a good chance for the likes of Erik Hurtado, Anthony Blondell and Kei Kamara to hit a goalscoring run. In midfield, there are no shortage of options, including Canadians Russell Teibert and David Norman Jr. who are pushing for minutes. And on the defensive side, Kendall Waston and Stefan Marinovic are getting closer to full fitness, which should create even more competition for places.
Now it comes down to one thing: which player is hungrier than the other?
“You see today, it’s very competitive and intense,” Robinson said following Tuesday’s training session. “I think there is an opportunity for [players] to play. One thing I do is give players opportunities when they deserve it and it’s down to them to see if they can implement what they do in training into games. And if they do, I think you’ve seen I put players in based on performances."
One player who is coming off a big performance is Kamara. Following his two-goal outing against Chicago Fire, the striker spoke on Tuesday about the importance of building momentum and getting the ‘Caps firing on all cylinders as a collective group heading into this busy stretch.
“It’s not about me scoring those goals because I know I can score goals on the road,” he said. “But it’s about being together and how we are going to do on the road the whole time. It’s going to be a very difficult 10 days, but hopefully we can get some points from those games.”
Whitecaps FC head to Washington this week to take on D.C. United on Saturday. United will be unveiling their brand new Audi Field and longtime Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney is expected to make his MLS debut. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT on TSN1 and 1410 AM radio.