VANCOUVER, CANADA - APRIL 16: Omar Salgado #17 and Alain Rochat #4 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC as well as Andrew Boyens #2 of the Chivas USA look on as Salgado's header sails over the net during the second half in MLS action on April 16, 2011 at Empire Field in Vancouver, BC, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Once again, the Vancouver Whitecaps go to war against a team from Texas I don't care about.
Maybe it's my unfamiliarity with Major League Soccer talking, but when I think of FC Dallas I... I don't think of anything, actually. I know they play in a stadium called Pizza Hut Park, which is pretty goofy. I think they have a bouncy castle in there, but this may be one of those things Ben Knight says that you can't necessarily believe, like "vests are in fashion". Ugo Ihemelu plays for them, and he was almost sort of nearly Canadian once. And, of course, they made it to the MLS Cup final last year. That definitely happened.
We have a number of FC Dallas alumni in our lineup, I guess. Blake Wagner came into the league with FC Dallas as a promising young man who could never possibly turn into a scrub injury replacement on an expansion team, and Atiba Harris played for Dallas (among several other teams in his nomadic career). But, c'mon. When the most interesting thing I can remember about your team is "they gave us our fourth-best left winger", I can't remember anything interesting about your team.
That's probably my fault, of course. I didn't watch many FC Dallas games (giving me something in common with the city of Dallas, judging by their attendance figures). So let's get back to talking about the Whitecaps and dive into the obligatory news and notes thread. Featuring, for once, that most elusive of talking points: good news about injuries.
Injured Players on the Mend:
- By all accounts, Terry Dunfield is expected to play a part in today's festivities. The veteran central midfielder has missed the last couple of weeks with a groin strain but, while apparently not one hundred percent, should be in the lineup today and could even start. I believe I speak for all of us when I say please, Terry, please, please don't be DeMeriting us. Although, to be fair to Dunfield, he's apparently been looking pretty good in practice for the last week.
- Shea Salinas is also said to be close. Salinas made the bench a few weeks ago but the Whitecaps have been taking it slowly with the winger: there's only an outside chance he'd start but I'd be surprised to not see him in the eighteen.
- Greg Janicki's hip is supposedly much better, and he may even find his way into the starting lineup depending. He, too, has been practicing hard and looking good. But given his history, I hope he isn't DeMeriting us too (note: "DeMeriting" is when you start a game despite having an injury you should rest; "Janicking" is when you stay in a game despite sustaining an injury that should have taken you out. Glad we cleared that up.)
- Michael Nanchoff is apparently still alive, and has been taking full practices lately, but still isn't expected to take any part in this game.
- Russell Teibert's hip is on the mend. In his live chat today, Marc Weber said that Teibert might be available for a half-hour run out or something similar, but we shouldn't expect him to start. No word on why Canadian Soccer Jesus can't just lay hands on himself; I guess the soccer gods help those who help themselves.
- Eric Hassli sustained a nasty knock above his knee in the Chivas game which nobody is talking about. I hope this means he's fine; he was at least practicing this week.
The Still-Injured Injured:
- Jay DeMerit is still some time from returning. He hasn't been taking full practice sessions and is probably looking at a medium- to long-term recovery from his groin strain.
- John Thorrington's leg is still bothering him obnoxiously and he's expected to miss the game. Given his pretty credible substitute performance against the New England Revolution, this is getting downright worrying.
- Finally, my anti-boy Atiba Harris's knee is apparently still a concern. He's training but I'd be surprised to see him play a role in this game if Hassli is in playing shape.
Gershon Koffie and the Ghana U-20s continue to fight for the African Youth Championship. But they're not putting much of a fight; the Ghanians are off to an awful start, going down 2-1 to Nigeria in the opening game then slumping to a 1-1 draw against Gambia that was saved only by a late Richmond Boakye Yiadom equalizer. Ghana must beat group winners Cameroon as well as get a favourable result in the Gambia - Nigeria match in order to get out of the group stages.
Reliable information for lineups in this tournament is hard to come by, but Koffie seems to be used quite erratically. He wasn't even in the eighteen-man squad for Ghana's opening match but started against Gambia. I can't find any records saying Koffie was substituted out but, then, I can't find any records saying anybody was substituted out.
Potential Roster Additions Young and Old:
- If you haven't heard, the Whitecaps have brought veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas in on trial. Vagenas, 33, is a ten-year Major League Soccer veteran who's had go-rounds with the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Seattle Sounders. In his day he was a pretty nice holding midfielder but his day is long over and he's had some injury problems. He's the sort of guy who only looks attractive to me because none of our other damned players are healthy, and by the time Vagenas gets into game shape his opportunity might have passed. Still, nice to see the Whitecaps are at least looking for solutions. Teitur Thordarson seems to like Vagenas, and Thordarson has been getting miles out of scrubs like Vagenas for years.
The Whitecaps have begun the process of signing U-15 players. 14-year-old Saltspring Island native Hamish Walde, Brian Im out of Gordon Head, and Dario Zanatta from Gorge FC have joined the Residency side according to a release from the Lower Island Soccer Association. All three were recently members of the LISA's U-14 metro boy's selection for 2010-11 and will be among the first class of Whitecaps in the U-15 Residency program.
Having recently lived within a goal kick's distance of Gorge-area soccer, I can naturally assure you that I know nothing whatsoever about any of these young men. But good luck to them all the same.