Left back Rochat adjusting to new life in 'Caps midfield

Vancouver Whitecaps' Alain Rochat

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BURNABY, B.C. – Alain Rochat has played the last two games a defensive midfielder, and if he had it his way, he’d be just fine playing there more often.

“I really like it,” Rochat told MLSsoccer.com at a training session at Burnaby Lake field this week. “I think I was better [against Chivas USA last Saturday] than against Colorado [in the previous match]. When you are used to playing in the same place, you start to feel the game and know exactly the position.”

Regardless of his own opinion of his performance, the Swiss-Canadian won the sponsor’s man of the match against the Colorado Rapids. Still, the switch to a more advanced role from his primary position as a left full back does come with challenges.

“It’s hard,” Rochat said. “It’s something totally different. When you play on the left, you know your left side is closed, so you only have to focus on just one side. In the middle, they come from everywhere, so you constantly have to turn your head, but that’s something you learn by playing this position, by practicing.”

HIGHLIGHTS: CHV 0, VAN 0

Since moving into midfield, he’s been partnering with youngster Gershon Koffie – and it seems to be a connection that’s working, at least defensively. With the pair shielding the back four, the club has yet to concede a goal.

“We have a good communication together,” Rochat said. “We try as much as possible to help each other. It’s the heart of the team, so you have to find the right balance between the defense and the offense, and the more we play together the more we can find and improve this balance.”

While Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie wasn’t tipping his hat for Wednesday’s away match against Toronto FC (7 pm ET, TSN/RDS in Canda, MLS Live in US) and said Rochat’s long-term future doesn’t necessarily lie in midfield, he’s been happy with his player’s performances in the new position.

“He’s been solid,” Rennie said. “I think he’s defended pretty well and he’s done quite well on the ball. Obviously he’s not been playing there a lot, so he needs to get his awareness to keep playing quickly, but I think he’s doing very well and he’s a generally good all-round player and can play in a number of positions.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.