VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC were back on the training pitch Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s much-anticipated Cascadia derby against Seattle Sounders FC.
Here are some news and notes from the day.
After arriving in Vancouver over the weekend, new Whitecaps FC left back Ali Adnan trained with the ‘Caps for the first time on Tuesday. And you couldn’t wipe the smile off his face.
“I’m so happy to be here in this team,” said Adnan, adding that he already feels like he’s known his teammates for years. “It’s a really big team with big fans, of course. I’m so happy … I think the city is amazing. I like it so much. I hope I do well. I came here just to play football. I want to help the team, and the team is helping me in this moment.”
Adnan, who has joined Whitecaps FC on loan through the end of June, is certainly a player with pedigree, having made 68 appearances in Serie A and 49 appearances for Iraq’s senior national team. Whitecaps FC head coach Marc Dos Santos described him as a natural left back who likes to get forward, as well as a player who contributes in both offensive and defensive set-play situations.
Although he hasn’t played in two months, Dos Santos said he feels Adnan is still “an option” for Saturday’s tilt against Seattle.
“His last game was in the Asian Cup. It’s not ideal. He’s not a player that’s been getting minutes for the past two months,” Dos Santos said. “But it’s an opportunity for us to have him so we need to get him going as soon as possible.”
The ‘Caps had a few extra bodies in training on Tuesday, as Canadian internationals Derek Cornelius, Doneil Henry, and Maxime Crepeau were back on the pitch after representing the national team over the last week. Cornelius and Henry, who both played 90 minutes on Sunday, had lighter sessions, while Crepeau trained in full.
Fellow Canadian international Russell Teibert, on the other hand, did not participate after suffering a shoulder injury at the end of Canada’s outing on Sunday.
“At the moment, I’ll tell you this, it doesn’t look good for him on Saturday,” Dos Santos said. “Hopefully things could change in the next 48 hours but it’s something we’re going to know more about in the next two or three days.”
The ‘Caps are now awaiting the return of Yordy Reyna, who is a part of the Peruvian squad that faces El Salvador on Tuesday evening in Washington, and Inbeom Hwang, who played 90 minutes for South Korea in a 2-1 victory over Colombia earlier in the day at the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
“Apparently he was tired after the game. It’s normal, 70 [minutes against Bolivia on Friday] plus 90 [minutes against Colombia today],” Dos Santos said. “We have to assess him. I think he did well. He kind of participated in the two goals Korea scored against Colombia. But now he’s coming back after 70 plus 90-minute games, long travel, so we’ll see how he feels when he gets back here.”
‘A TEAM WE DON’T LIKE’
Saturday’s match against Seattle will be the first opportunity for many Whitecaps FC players to participate in a Cascadia derby match. As a third-year player with the club, however, Jake Nerwinski knows what they’re all about and he’s very much looking forward to the occasion.
“It’s a different kind of game,” he said. “Everybody gets up a little bit more for that, they play a little harder. We’ve been hearing the buzz around the fans, all the staff, so we know what’s at stake. We know we have the opportunity to get points against a very good team and a team we don’t like.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 7 p.m. PT at BC Place – tickets are still available.