Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie is delighted his star striker Camilo Sanvezzo is set to participate in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game (9 pm ET; ESPN2, UniMas in the US; TSN/RDS in Canada), where the league’s best will square off against Italian side AS Roma in Kansas City.
He just hopes his side’s Brazilian talisman is set for a glamor run out rather than a long, mileage-adding appearance which takes a toll ahead of the crucial end of season run in to the MLS Cup playoffs.
“Hopefully he won’t play too much,” Rennie told reporters after a training session on Tuesday. “But hopefully he’ll play a bit and have a really good time and continue his good season. But I think last season, Jay [DeMerit] played the whole game and that didn’t help us too much in the next game.
“Hopefully I don’t think that will happen. I think there’s a lot of strikers, so hopefully will Camilo will play a part, but not too long.”
Given what happened in last season’s All-Star game, in which DeMerit, the club captain, played the full 90 minutes in a 3-2 win against Chelsea, and then had to play two days later against Real Salt Lake for the Whitecaps, it’s an understandable concern for Rennie to have.
On that occasion, Rennie had made an agreement with All-Star coach Ben Olsen that given the circumstances, DeMerit would just play the first half.
As it happened, DeMerit’s All-Star central defensive partner, Aurélien Collin, ended up fracturing his cheekbone – and that meant a shortage of viable replacements at center back – meaning DeMerit was asked to play the full match.
“I thought so, last year,” Rennie quipped when asked if he had any say into how long his players played in the league’s showcase match. “But no.”
As for the implications for the team this season, it’s not quite as tight a timeline for Camilo as it was for DeMerit. The league’s joint scoring leader is set to return to Vancouver on Thursday and will likely get a practice session in on Friday before the 'Caps travel down to face the Portland Timbers on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field.
Still, while having reasonable concerns about the minutes his forward plays, Rennie knows how big a deal it is to the players.
“It’s fantastic,” Rennie said of Camilo’s All-Star selection. “I’m really pleased for him and it’s well deserved.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.