VANCOUVER, B.C. – A few players in, a few players out: That’s the story at Vancouver Whitecaps FC training this week as head coach Teitur Thordarson is forced to continue juggling his lineup ahead of this weekend’s match against Sporting Kansas City.
Michael Boxall and Jay DeMerit – the two starting center backs from the season-opening match – return from international duty this week and should be slotted back into the back line against Sporting.
Boxall returned to training on Tuesday after playing for the New Zealand national team in a friendly match against China on Friday. Boxall came on at halftime and helped propel the All Whites to a 1-1 draw.
“Stepping out for the first time in your country’s colors for the full national team felt great,” said Boxall after training at Empire Field on Tuesday. “There are not too many higher honors than that in the game of soccer.”
[inline_node:332378]DeMerit, meanwhile, remains with the United States national team as they play against Paraguay in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday. The Whitecaps captain played the entire match against Argentina last Saturday as the Americans rallied for a 1-1 draw. He is expected to return to Vancouver in time for training on Thursday.
Despite having his key defenders back, Thordarson will need to make adjustments in midfield and up top.
Russell Teibert, who started the first two matches at left wing, is away in Guatemala playing for the Canadian U-20 national team in the 2011 CONCACAF Championship. The 18-year-old had a strong performance in Canada’s first tournament match, registering two assists in a 2-1 win over Guadeloupe on Monday night. Accompanying him is 17-year-old striker Omar Salgado, who is also away playing in the same tournament with the United States U-20 national side.
In the attack, Thordarson will be without Designated Player Eric Hassli, who will miss this weekend’s tilt due to having received a red card against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.
WATCH: Highlights: PHI 1, VAN 0
As if that weren't bad enough, it could be double trouble for the front line as Atiba Harris sat out of practice on Tuesday. The Carribean striker was on the brunt end of a couple of harsh tackles from Union defenders on the weekend, but Thordarson anticipates that he’ll be back against Kansas City.
“[Atiba] has been struggling to recover from the weekend,” said Thordarson. “Hopefully he will be in training on Thursday. But who will partner him? I need these days [coming up] to find out. … It will most probably be Long Tan or Camilo.”
Jay Nolly sat out the team’s scrimmage as he recovers from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the last match. John Thorrington, Davide Chiumiento, Shea Salinas and Michael Nanchoff, meanwhile, remain in doubt as they continue to rehabilitate from their own injuries.
Kevin Harmse, a midfielder/defender who was signed on Friday, is available to play.