Anybody who isn't representing their national team this week, raise your hand. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
The Vancouver Whitecaps have a few roster problems going into this afternoon. Between international callups and injuries the Whitecaps are without nine players for today's game and another one questionable. It's going to be a rough assignment against a http://www.sbnation.com/soccer/mls/teams/philadelphia-union>Philadelphia Union side that's looking drastically improved over last year's incarnation.
As a result, today's News and Notes has rather inevitably turned into a list of all the players we haven't got. Although, to be fair, we did add one player we all expected to sign, keep one player we all expected to be running around in Africa right now, and I can tell you the best place in town to watch the match with like-minded Whitecaps supporters. It's not all bad news. Just... mostly bad news.
On International Duty:
- Jay DeMerit is off representing the United States for the first time since the 2010 Gold Cup. The Americans will take on Argentina today 4 PM PDT; I can't imagine why they thought they'd need DeMerit for that. Do Argentina have any attacking players? I can't imagine there's anybody I've ever heard of.
- Another centre back, Michael Boxall, is off representing New Zealand for the first time ever! Congratulations to Boxall, who came in at half for Andrew Boyens in New Zealand's 1-1 draw with China yesterday. That's Boxall's first senior international cap, of course: he's previously represented the All Whites at the U-20 and U-23 levels as well as with a national "B" team.
- Now that Omar Salgado is eligible to play for the Whitecaps, he's naturally off with the United States U-20 team for the CONCACAF U-20 championship that serves as qualifying for this summer's U-20 World Cup. The Americans are in a group with Surinam and Panama; I think they just might win it. Canada is in much tougher with Costa Rica and Guadeloupe. Yes, Guadeloupe plays for the CONCACAF U-20 championship even though they're ineligible to go to the World Cup. Go figure.
- Philadelphia is missing a couple of players too, but nobody major: goalkeeper Zac MacMath and midfielder Amobi Okugo are both with the United States U-20s. Okugo might have been on the bench but neither was likely to play this game anyway.
Not On International Duty:
Nizar Khalfan should be in the Whitecaps' lineup this afternoon. The Whitecaps say that they didn't receive Tanzania's request to release Khalfan in time for the match against Central African Republic in African Cup of Nations qualifying. To be fair to the Tanzanians, they definitely need Khalfan for the game: at age twenty-two, Khalfan has already made 25 senior caps for Tanzania and scored five goals. Khalfan is one of their leading players and Central African Republic is ranked well ahead of Tanzania in the latest FIFA rankings. It's hard to imagine that Tanzania would simply forget to call Khalfan, but it's equally hard to imagine Vancouver would just barefaced lie about it and say they never got the memo. Probably there was a communications breakdown somewhere, which I understand is common both in African soccer federations and in the Vancouver Whitecaps organization.
Best of luck to Tanzania anyway: their game at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium began at approximately 4:00 AM Pacific Daylight Time today.
- Also, from the "not on international duty yet" department, Russell Teibert is in Philadelphia with the Whitecaps. If healthy, he'll probably play and then fly out to Guatemala to help the Canadian U-20 team attempt qualification for the U-20 World Cup. The Whitecaps have apparently agreed to limit Teibert to 65 minutes in the match so as to save him for the national team.
Injured and Out:
- Davide Chiumiento (hamstring) didn't even bother getting on the plane. He's still in Vancouver and obviously will take no part in today's game.
- More sadly, Shea Salinas (knee) is also out for today's game. Salinas played in Philadelphia last year and seemed rather fond of the city but was exposed in the winter Expansion Draft. Obviously the loss of Salinas hurts the Whitecaps on the field, but from a personal perspective I'd have liked to see him return to Philly.
- Michael Nanchoff (groin) is apparently dead.
- John Thorrington (quad) is also expected to have no part in today's festivities.
- Russell Teibert (hamstring) we've discussed above; I do personally both hope and expect he plays. By the way, I've named five injured players for the Whitecaps so far and they're all frickin' midfielders. This is our second game. God.
- Jay Nolly hurt his shoulder in training this week and seems to be out for the game. Given that Nolly was the Whitecaps' iron man the past three seasons, it takes a lot to knock him out and we obviously wish him all the best. Joe Cannon (nursing an injured ankle from the offseason) will almost certainly start in goal, and Brian Sylvestre has been flown in to Philadelphia to sit on the bench.
- The Union may be without central defender/leading scorer Danny Califf (knee). Defender Juan Diego Gonzalez is nursing a hip injury but will probably be fit for kickoff.
Rare Non-Injury-Related News:
- If you hadn't heard, the Whitecaps have signed Kevin Harmse to a contract. This brings the team up to 28 out of a possible 30 senior contracts signed. Harmse will probably be on the bench, ready to replace whichever one of our midfielders is the next to inevitably be seriously hurt.
- If you're in the Vancouver area, don't have Sportsnet One, and are looking for a place to watch the game, the Vancouver Southsiders will be gathering at Doolin's Pub downtown on Nelson St. between Howe and Seymour. Of course, the game will also be on radio with TEAM 1410 (they do have an online live stream).