VANCOUVER, B.C. – Carlyle Mitchell has been a sort of forgotten man in the Vancouver Whitecaps squad this season.
But after getting on the pitch for the first time since May 12 in this past Saturday’s loss to the Seattle Sounders, the 25-year-old is hoping to jump up the club’s depth chart at center back.
“It feels good to get on the field after a long time,” Mitchell told MLSsoccer.com after a training session at BC Place on Tuesday. “I learned a lot in the game. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we’ll learn from our mistakes and prepare for our next game which is a very important game.”
This weekend’s match is the second derby match on the hop, as the Whitecaps travel down to Portland to face the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field, and Mitchell is hoping to play a part. He’ll have his work cut out for him though, with center back Martín Bonjour returning from suspension and captain Jay DeMerit approaching a return from a concussion.
Mitchell admits the fact he’s only had two starts this season has been tough to deal with after starting three of the club’s four final matches in 2011.
“It’s very difficult to stay focused,” Mitchell said. “At any time you can get called on to play.”
One area Mitchell has had more joy with in recent times is the Trinidad and Tobago national team. He started in his country’s 2-0 friendly defeat to Canada on August 15, and now has his sights set on becoming a starter for the upcoming Caribbean Championship, which takes place in late September.
After T&T were knocked out of contention for a spot in the 2014 World Cup, a youth movement is underway, with head coach Hudson Charles looking to groom younger players for bigger roles ahead of the next potential major tournament, the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“I feel very confident for a first-team spot,” Mitchell said of his chances with the national team. “We have to do well [in the Caribbean Championship]. Right now, our football is not where it is supposed to be. But if we get a few results under our belt, the fans will get behind us again.”
DeMerit comeback close
The club captain participated in full training for the first time since his concussion on August 11 in Vancouver’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake during Tuesday’s practice.
DeMerit explained he suffered deep headaches and dizziness in the aftermath of his collision with goalkeeper Brad Knighton, but that those symptoms have subsided.
“You always want to be out there with your team, especially when we’ve had a few poor results in the past couple games,” DeMerit said. “But ultimately you need to have the end game in sight, probably even more so now as you want to get back out there. We still want to be sensible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push to go and try to play, because ultimately that’s what we’re here to do.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.