Russell Teibert has returned from a largely forgettable Gold Cup experience for Team Canada, and although he was battling an illness, it looks like he's recovered and will be ready for the Galaxy this weekend. That means the most dangerous trio in Major League Soccer will be reunited, with Kenny Miller and Camilo keeping up their strong play in his absence.
However, it also means the sidelines will be just a little more crowded as the season progresses. The emergence of Teibert, and the dominance of both Miller and Camilo has meant talented players like Kekuta Manneh and Darren Mattocks have had to sit and wait for their opportunity. They've both played very well lately in limited minutes, but they aren't playing better than the aforementioned Scot and Brazilian, which means they've been playing bit parts as the Whitecaps have skyrocketed up the Western Conference standings.
In the case of Mattocks, he has one goal in his last two matches, though he's been a very late second half substitution both times. Against the Seattle Sounders, Mattocks was subbed on at 76', yet was able to put the cherry on top of the cupcake and score the 2-0 insurance goal against our Cascadia Cup rivals, propelling the 'Caps to their first win against our cousins from down the I5. However, he was given even less of chance to make an impact against the Chicago Fire, touching boot to pitch at 88'.
Manneh has been a spectacle all season long, given the fact that he made the roster at the tender age of 18. However, he's been given even less playing time than Mattocks recently, but has done his best to make the most of it. When Manneh managed to get on the pitch at the 62' mark of the Chicago match, it was the first time he'd seen MLS action since the New England match, or just under a month. He sure as hell didn't look rusty though, scoring a beautiful goal to seal the win for Vancouver.
Here's the thing; despite what Manneh and Mattocks both bring to the table, (speed, speed and more speed) there is no way in hell Martin Rennie is going to sacrifice the playing time of the leading scorer in MLS, or the man who currently has the second most goals on the squad. They've played so well, they're almost untouchable. That means Mattocks and Manneh are undoubtedly thinking of two things; 1) That they want to make as much of an impact as they can in a substitution role and 2) Who will get Miller's spot once he retires?
It's no sure bet Miller will leave the Whitecaps at the end of this season, though rumors have been swirling for quite a while now. If he does leave, it would mean the Whitecaps would have a glaring vacancy in their attack, and they would look to their youth movement to fill the gap. It would be tough to look past Mattocks first, given what he accomplished last season. However, his finish deteriorated this season, and some questioned his commitment to training earlier this season. If he's not the guy, then the question needs to be asked; at such a young age, is Manneh ready to step into the role?
Barring injury to Miller, Camilo or Teibert, we've got plenty of time before these questions need to be answered. For now, two extremely talented players, players that would get first team minutes on most other teams, must wait. Think of it this way; every time they're subbed onto the pitch, they're essentially in a job interview for next season and beyond. It'll be fun to see who manages to come out on top.