Right in the nick of time, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are headed to Ohio on a much-needed high ahead of Saturday's matchup with the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm, MatchDay Live).
The 'Caps have not won a league match since their MLS debut against Toronto FC on March 19, and that six-match winess streak has seen them plummet to eighth place in the Western Conference.
On Wednesday, the ‘Caps rediscovered the winning feeling as they beat the Montreal Impact 1-0 in the first leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal series. It may not have been that long-sought second league victory, but the team was pleased to finally log a "W" regardless.
“Everything is better when you win, there’s no doubt about that," said head coach Teitur Thordarson following the match. "Even the food tastes better.”
The Whitecaps' fortunes are also turning on the injury front, as some key players returned to the field in Montreal. Mouloud Akloul got his first start of the season, playing the full game after finally completing a lengthy rehabilitation from a broken ankle.
“It was fantastic to see him on the field again in his first real game since he broke his ankle,” said Thordarson. “I was delighted to see him get through 90 minutes, and he did it quite well.”
The match also marked the Whitecaps debut for winger Shea Salinas, who Thordarson has often called “probably our best player in the preseason.”
“It was definitely a big blow to lose him,” added Thordarson. “I wanted to give him some minutes so that he feels where the level is.”
Vancouver also saw 18-year-old winger Russell Teibert back (above) in action. The young Canadian played exceptionally well, assisting on Terry Dunfield’s game-winning goal. Another opening-day starter could be back in the lineup on Saturday as central midfielder Gershon Koffie rejoins the team after missing four games on international duty with the Ghana U-20s.
The club also rounded out its 30-man roster on Thursday with the signing of midfielder Peter Vagenas. The MLS veteran will be available against the Crew. Eric Hassli, on the other hand, will not be available as he misses the match due to yellow-card accumulation.