Thorrington, Harris on verge of return to Vancouver lineup

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps have reinforcements on the way — this time from within.

Veterans John Thorrington (above, right) and Atiba Harris (above, left) were picked up in this year’s Expansion Draft by the Whitecaps to provide leadership and MLS experience, but instead have spent more time on the treatment table than on the field.

They’ve been sorely missed. And now, barring any setbacks, their return to the first-team squad is imminent. Thorrington has returned to doing a modest amount of work with the main squad during practice, while Harris’ knee continues to react well to specialized sessions with the club’s physio team.

“What we lack now is MLS experience,” Whitecaps head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com. “Guys like Atiba and John who’ve been there and done that — who know the grind of what it takes to win on the road and at home — the little things, they’re important to this group, especially when we have a lot of youth. There’s no better way to learn than from example.”

For Thorrington, it’s been an especially frustrating year. A leg injury suffered in preseason confined him to the bench at the beginning of the year. Then, after finally recovering, the former Chicago Fire player reinjured himself on his Whitecaps debut at Empire Field against the New England Revolution on April 6.

Fans will remember that match for Eric Hassli’s infamous ejection for removing his shirt during a goal celebration while carrying a yellow card. The big Frenchman’s sending off left the Whitecaps with only nine men, hardly the scenario desirable for a midfielder returning from injury.

As it happened, Thorrington suffered a calf injury during that match, and has been rehabilitating it since, but he’s on his way back now and hoping to make a difference.

“We’ve taken steps over the last six weeks," Thorrington said after his first training session last week. "I’ve basically been in a boot camp trying to get fit and break this injury cycle I’ve been on. Every hurdle I’ve had in the past six-week period I’ve cleared and now the last one I have is building my way up to games. It feels so great to be out there — the most frustrating thing you can possibly deal with as an athlete is to be injured.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon