FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — In the midst of a grueling, twice-a-week, travel-filled playing schedule that sees his team play eight games in 26 days, Teitur Thordarson decided to lighten things up at training on Friday as his Vancouver Whitecaps FC prepare to face New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday (7:30 pm ET, Direct Kick, MatchDay Live).
“Guys are feeling well,” said Thordarson after practice. “There is a very good atmosphere in the group. We had a light training this morning because we have so many games these days and we need more recovery than anything else.”
Though times have been tough in the standings, it was evident that team spirit remains high as the ‘Caps look to build on their three-match unbeaten run in all competitions.
“Some of the guys got to have some fun,” said goalkeeper Jay Nolly. “Goalies were still working hard down on our end, but it was a good session. I think we have a good attitude going into tomorrow.”
Included in Vancouver’s recent matches is the team’s first point on the road, a 0-0 draw in their last match away from home against Chicago.
“We’ll hope to continue that,” said captain Jay DeMerit. “Playing away from home has been one of our worries this year, so we’ll hopefully turn that around tomorrow. It looks like the guys are ready to go.
DeMerit’s return was a welcome sight for Whitecaps fans. The gritty center back played the last 15 minutes of the midweek contest and looks set to get more minutes this weekend.
“So far so good,” said DeMerit of his appearance on Wednesday. “We don’t want to get too crazy and try to have me play 90 minutes right away, but the build-up has been fine and the minutes I got on Wednesday [were] a good start. Hopefully I can help out for a few more minutes tomorrow and we can continue moving in the right direction.”
Another welcome returnee is Shea Salinas. The speedy winger has been working himself back into game shape the past several matches and made his first start of the season against San Jose on Wednesday.
“I felt good, legs aren’t as tired as I thought they’d be,” said Salinas. “We’re fit. We haven’t had too many injuries recently which is great. I think the coaching staff and the trainers have done well with managing everything.”
This will be the first rematch of the MLS season for the Whitecaps, as they battled to a 1-1 draw at home to the Revolution on April 6 in a game that featured three red cards.
“We don’t really know what to take from it because we were down two men much of the game,” said Nolly. “But they’re a good team. They were great on set-pieces and they like to whip balls in from out wide.”
A tight-knit group has kept the group confident and the players feel as though once they finally break through and get the ball rolling, they’ll meet their own expectations in the end.
“It’s a new team, so we must have a little bit of patience,” insisted Davide Chiumiento, the hero of Wednesday’s match. “But if we can win that first game on the road, things will come together and we’ll make some good results.”