VANCOUVER, B.C. – There may not be much in the way of Canadian representation on the Vancouver Whitecaps roster, but that changes nothing in their drive for domestic glory in the Amway Canadian Championship.
That’s the word from both players and coach ahead of Wednesday’s semifinal first leg against FC Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium (9:30 pm ET, Sportsnet).
“I think it’s really important to this team to win this trophy, to become the best team in Canada," Ontario native Russell Teibert (above) told reporters following a training session at the University of British Columbia on Monday. "Not only for myself, I think a lot of the guys are really excited to play in this tournament.”
Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie also insisted that, as he has done in Major League Soccer play, when it comes to his selection policy for this competition, ability rather than birthplace will reign supreme.
“I don’t think I’ll look at it just as to where they’re from,” the Scotsman said. “I think it’s just about what we think is going to be the best team for that game.”
As it stands, Teibert is the only Canadian-raised player likely to see significant time in this tournament for the ‘Caps, with Vancouver-area native forward Caleb Clarke perhaps in line for a minor role.
Third-string goalkeeper Simon Thomas of nearby Victoria isn’t likely to see the field as No. 2 Brad Knighton looks set to get his first competitive action of the season, while Kitchener, Ontario, native Bryce Alderson has been left off the club’s initial Canadian Championship roster, but the team could add him later.
It’s a big contrast from an FC Edmonton side the ‘Caps will face in the semifinal first leg on Wednesday, which has 13 Canadians in its first-team squad.
“It’s definitely something that we put on the list of things we definitely need to achieve this year,” Southern California native Jordan Harvey said of the Canadian Championship. “I don’t think you’re going see anything lackadaisical or anything like that. It’s all serious and we’re going to give 100 percent and I’m looking forward to it.”