I am not looking forward to predicting the Vancouver Whitecaps starting eleven for tonight's Voyageurs Cup opener against the Montreal Impact. I mean, there's the obvious pile of injuries, but there's also the open question of how Teitur Thordarson is going to approach the game. Will he go for broke, charge into Stade Saputo, wrestle for his road win, and romp back out as an MLS team ought against allegedly inferior opposition? Or will he play a bunch of guys we'd all forgotten about and try to get out without any further injuries?
Luckily, those questions aren't in the purview of the obligatory Game Day News and Notes. The speculation can wait until kickoff (and, indeed, later this morning you'll see my guess as to what the Whitecaps are going to do); for now, let's just look at who definitely isn't playing on account of our inevitable injury crisis.
Not Even In Montreal:
- Jay DeMerit, his playoff beard, and his injured groin are still in Vancouver recovering. The Whitecaps suffered the groin injury on international duty with the United States international team and aggravated it in an extraordinarily ill-fated return against the Houston Dynamo; he's out for at least this week and almost certainly next week as well.
- John Thorrington is also in Vancouver, also because of a groin injury. I'm a little surprised by Thorrington's descent into fragility. When he came on as a substitute for an injured Terry Dunfield against the New England Revolution, Thorrington actually looked very good. But his recovery has gone backwards since then and he isn't even practicing as well anymore. It looks like bad news for the Thunder God.
- Also staying hope and recuperating is Atiba Harris, out for the past two games with a knee injury. There hasn't been much news about Harris lately besides "he's hurt, yo". I don't miss him that much but I'm still concerned about this lingering problem. Hopefully the Whitecaps are just playing it safe.
- Not injured, but also not in Montreal is midfielder Philippe Davies - a Quebec native and a man rapidly on his way to becoming my latest "play-this-guy-dammit" obsession of the season. There's still been neither hide nor hair of Davies on an MLS field this season, and with another injury in central midfield last Saturday I thought this might be his hour. Instead, the Whitecaps haven't even brought Davies on the road trip with them.
- There's no Alexandre Morfaw in Montreal; he's been bothered for a while with a broken hand and apparently a leg injury as well.
- No official word on the Mystery Man Michael Nanchoff, whose injury situation has been improving but wasn't expected to make the trip to Columbus. As far as I can tell, no news is probably bad news.
Present, But Wounded:
- Instead of Davies, the Vancouver Whitecaps have brought Jeb Brovsky to Montreal. Brovsky left Saturday's game against FC Dallas with a sprained ankle, but even if he's unlikely to play a major role in today's game Thordarson apparently wanted him around. I don't see why. Anyway, it would take a braver man than I to predict more than a substitute appearance for Brovsky.
- Terry Dunfield broke his nose against FC Dallas and returned with about ten pounds of gauze shoved up one nostril. I see no way he misses this game but he is still injured.
- Shea Salinas, who's been bothered by lower-body problems since preseason, is in Montreal with the team. He's been making the bench more regularly lately but still has yet to have a regular season appearance with the Whitecaps; this might be the winger's opportunity.
- Greg Janicki and his injured hip are also improving and have made the trip to la belle province. I'm not sure Janicki starts, particularly with Mouloud Akloul close to game fitness, but he's available if needed or desired.
- Every time anybody mentions Mouloud Akloul these days, they add that he's pretty much in shape. Well, that's good news. I'd love to see Akloul start against the Impact with Alain Rochat moving to left back. Whether he does or doesn't, he seems to be here for us.
- Gershon Koffie is a borderline case: as devoted Eighty Six Forever readers will recall, Koffie's Ghana U-20 team was eliminated from the African Youth Championship on Sunday. Koffie set out to arrive in Montreal and is expected to be with the team, but it's not sure what role he'll play in the game. Koffie is probably pretty jet-lagged but he played only one game with Ghana and is probably in first-class shape otherwise. With Koffie facing suspension in the weekend game against Columbus, I expect him to see action.
- Russell Teibert is said to be extremely close to returning from an injury suffered with the Canadian U-20 team. Teibert played the second half in Houston but sat out both Chivas USA and FC Dallas recovering. Stephen Hart is in Montreal checking out potential Canadian internationals like Dunfield and Ali Gerba; if Teibert is fit, he might get showcased to the national team boss as a potential Gold Cup callup.
- I'm reluctant to list Davide Chiumiento on this list since he isn't, strictly speaking, injured. But as the last couple of weeks have made clear, he is clearly unfit (shades of the 2010 season there, where Chiumiento spent literally months trying to "get into shape"). Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised to see him start this game on the bench because he simply isn't fit enough to play a mid-week road game.
Other Whitecaps News of the Day:
- Single-game tickets for the return leg of the Voyageurs Cup next Wednesday are now on sale. Have you seen the Impact play in Montreal before? No? Then you are missing out. Prices are typical for the Whitecaps but the entertainment will probably be far, far greater.