VANCOUVER, B.C. – Carlyle Mitchell’s MLS debut in the Whitecaps' 3-0 victory over Real Salt Lake on Thursday was nice and quiet, with a sprinkling of crunching tackles.
Signed on deadline day, the center back showed composure on the ball and bite in the tackle as Vancouver claimed their fifth MLS victory of the season, and their first at their new home, BC Place.
The Trinidadian's speed and strength were evident throughout the match, especially in the first half, as RSL had several excellent spells of possession, but tellingly, little in the way of quality opportunities.
Mitchell told reporters in the buildup to the match that he’d have to adjust to the increased speed of the North American game, but there were few signs of that on Thursday.
“The speed of the play is very quick,” Mitchell told MLSsoccer.com after Thursday’s win. “Back home, there is more passing at the back. I find I adapted very quick and now I’ll try to push on from here and have another wonderful performance.”
Last week, interim coach Tom Soehn told reporters his center backs had to talk more and marshal the defense, but he seemed happier with that aspect of the game with the addition of Mitchell.
“Mitchell coming in at the back gave us some bite, real athleticism,” Soehn said. “He did a good job communicating. We did a good job of keeping a high line and staying organized."
The new defensive pairing of captain Jay DeMerit and Mitchell seemed to click right away, despite the Trinidadian’s rapid and musical speech.
“Great player, great leadership,” Mitchell said of DeMerit. “We communicate well, understand each other. I talk a little fast, but we understand [each other].”
The pairing’s attributes seem to complement each other well, according to goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
“It was really easy the way [DeMerit and Mitchell] were playing,” the veteran 'keeper noted. “I think Jay and Mitchell are very similar in the sense that they’re good in the air, good in the tackle."
After running away with the shutout win vs. RSL, it seems the Whitecaps have their starting central pair for what remains of this season, and maybe for 2012.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.