VANCOUVER, B.C. – When the Vancouver Whitecaps take on the LA Galaxy this Saturday at BC Place (7 pm ET; TSN in Canada, MLS Live in US), they could be making at least three changes to their starting lineup.
Defensive midfielder Matias Laba is eligible for selection after suspension, fellow midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker made the bench but didn't play last weekend and forward Kenny Miller came on as a substitute in last weekend's 1-0 defeat against the Galaxy down in Carson, Calif.
Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson is providing no assurances any of them will start, but it's difficult to imagine Laba and Miller in particular not getting the nod.
Miller is the side's top scorer this year with three markers – two of which he scored from the spot. Robinson left Miller on the bench to start the match last weekend for the sake of ensuring the Scotsman's 34-year-old legs can last the duration of the season.
“I hope so,” Miller said Thursday on potentially starting this weekend following a training session at BC Place. “It's disappointing for any professional to be sitting watching. You want to be on that field and you want to be helping the team out and you want to be in a position where you can influence the game.
“When you're sitting watching, it's really frustrating because you can't do that. Hopefully I'll play, obviously the manager has a lot of options, he's got a lot of things to think about, whether it's personnel or the way he wants to play. Hopefully I'll be back in.”
Fellow Designated Player Laba also looks likely to return to the starting lineup after his controversial dismissal two weeks ago. He'll likely slot in alongside one of Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert or Reo-Coker if Robinson opts for a 4-2-3-1 or could play as a solo holding midfielder in a diamond 4-4-2.
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“He's a good player, a very, very good player,” Reo-Coker said when asked about Laba. “He's young, he's still got great potential to get even better. But for what he does, and I hope people recognize and take a lot of notice and give him more credit than he has been getting.
“He's just as important to us – you have your flair players like Kenny and Pedro [Morales] and players who can make something happen out of nothing, as important as they are, Laba's just as important. Without players like him in the team who grind and do the dirty work so to speak, you wouldn't have a successful team.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.