Would you believe I only wrote one fully, unabashedly Whitecaps-related article since last Sunday? Of course you probably would; when was the last time I willingly wrote something? Wednesday's call for Philippe Davies's return was pretty much all I had to say on the Vancouver Whitecaps front.
Was it because nothing happened? Actually, no. The Whitecaps made a bit of noise, although most of it came on Friday. And, of course, our players were busy going off, playing internationally, getting horribly injured, and otherwise doing things which will force them to miss today's game. Yes, would you believe today's unavailable list is actually longer than last week's? It just never gets easier.
I've been ranting for months about how the Whitecaps need more depth but really, even I never saw this coming.
So I may as well give you the grim prognosis. Today's edition of Whitecaps news and notes is, again, dominated by the injured list. I have a nasty feeling we should get used to that.
Some Good News, For Once:
If you missed it, the Whitecaps have finally signed defender Mouloud Akloul. The 28-year-old Akloul is a tough centre back with personality to spare both off and on the field, a pretty nice bag of tricks, and good technical ability. He's also got a horrific bum ankle: he broke it on his season debut last year with the Whitecaps scoring the winning goal against AC St. Louis after all of twenty-two minutes of playing time. I gave him my Facebook Award for the most dramatic moment of the season and I didn't mean "drama" in a good way: that was ugly to watch.
Akloul did make a brief and perhaps premature return for one game as a substitute late in the regular season, but it's good to see that he's healthy enough to earn a contract. I've pimped Akloul's abilities in the past so I won't repeat myself here; suffice to say that a healthy Mouloud Akloul could answer a lot of questions about this team's back four. This brings the Whitecaps up to twenty-nine of thirty MLS contracts used, with one international player slot remaining.
In other happy news, the Vancouver Whitecaps officially announced a dramatic expansion of their Residency program. The program will now stretch down to the U-14 age group and include Whitecaps youth teams playing in an elite northwestern American youth league. I ran an article on this development yesterday on Canadian Soccer News, but suffice to say that in ten years time this will hugely overshadow anything the Whitecaps do on the field today.
Enough Joy Already, Who's Hurt?:
- The long-term injured list hasn't changed. Midfielders Shea Salinas (knee) and Michael Nanchoff (groin) are still missing, as they have been for every game since before the end of the preseason. Nanchoff was just a top ten SuperDraft pick and Salinas our starting right winger and the prize of our Expansion Draft, though, so it's no big deal. John Thorrington (quad) is supposedly very close to returning and might make the bench, but probably still won't start.
- As for the guys who actually made it to the beginning of the season, Davide Chiumiento is almost certain to sit with the same hamstring strain that knocked him out of the Toronto game. Jay Nolly (shoulder) is in better shape and will at least be on the bench; depending on Teitur Thordarson's opinion of Joe Cannon's health Nolly might even start.
- Did I mention Joe Cannon? Yes I did; apparently his ankle is still bothering him. He sure didn't look hobbled against Philadelphia but the Whitecaps are still concerned.
- Blake Wagner is fighting a case of the flu, but given that the Whitecaps pretty much have no left-side wingers left other than Wagner he'll probably have to suck it up. If he doesn't suck it up, Nizar Khalfan probably moves to left wing and Wes Knight plays the right.
- Jay DeMerit strained his groin in the United States international against Paraguay and is doubtful for today's game. Michael Boxall is likely to draw in instead.
Other Reasons Our Players Aren't Playing:
- Russell Teibert is on international duty with Canada's U-20 international team, who lost 3-0 in an ugly game to Costa Rica last night. Appropriately for the Whitecaps, Teibert actually missed yesterday's game: he's fighting illness.
- Omar Salgado is also away with the U-20 team; his United States side rolled the Surinamese U-20s 4-0 on Tuesday, and they take on the Panama U-20s later today. By the way, Omar Salgado is eligible for the next cycle of U-20 World Cup qualifying as well. How ridiculous is that?
- Of course, Eric Hassli is suspended for being tossed out of last Saturday's game against the Philadelphia Union.
Sporting Kansas City Casualties:
- Of course, Omar Bravo is suspended for being tossed out of last Saturday's game against the Chicago Fire. Wait, does that sound familiar?
- As well, forward Konrad Warzycha and midfielder Ryan Smith are both out with knee problems. Defender Julio Cesar is questionable with a leg laceration, and midfielder Luke Sassano, defender Michael Harrington, and backup goalkeeper Jon Kempin are fighting minor knocks.