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'Caps backups make case for starting XI during int'l break

Atiba Harris of Vancouver

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

BURNABY, B.C. – Just because a player hasn’t been a regular starter, that doesn’t mean he won’t have a part to play when it matters most.

Between injuries and suspensions, unlikely heroes are often called upon to make a difference in playoff and cup situations.

With that in mind, head coach Martin Rennie is happy to see Atiba Harris (above) and Carlyle Mitchell get some game action in the 2012 Caribbean Championship with St. Kitts & Nevis and Trinidad & Tobago, respectively, ahead of two crucial regular-season matches and potential MLS Cup playoff action.

Mitchell started in central defense in T&T’s 4-1 win over French Guyana on Wednesday. Atiba Harris played a prominent role for his country, wearing the captain’s armband and setting up the opener before bagging a goal of his own in his country’s 2-0 win over Anguilla.

Whitecaps Divided: Scotland vs. Wales

The pair has hardly kicked a ball in competitive action in recent weeks for the Whitecaps, with neither figuring at all in the month of September.

“It’s good for them and hopefully they’ll come back with no injuries and feeling good and hopefully get some good results for their countries,” Rennie told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at Swangard Stadium on Thursday. “That would be important – coming into this last bit, it’s hard to get everybody games but it’ll be a good chance for them.”

Rennie was forced to call upon a player by the name of Josh Westermann in a similar situation during his 2008 USL-2 championship winning season while coaching the Cleveland City Stars.

Westermann seemed well out of the starting XI picture, but ended up playing a crucial part in the club taking the cup.

“[Westermann] wasn’t in the 18 in the semifinal, and then he was the man of the match or the MVP in the final,” Rennie said. “He started and played the whole game. Sometimes you can feel far away and be very close.

“I think all the guys need to keep that in mind. We talk about that – everybody has a part to play and when the game comes around they need to be ready to go.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.