BURNABY, B.C. – The Canadian Championship looms.
For the Vancouver Whitecaps, that means a busy schedule, with up to eight matches in the month of May. It all starts with Wednesday’s match against NASL side FC Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium (10 pm ET; Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Pacific in Canada).
“With the number of games we’ve got, it’s an exciting time for the club,” midfielder John Thorrington told MLSsoccer.com at Burnaby Lake field on Monday. “Now we’ve got this Canadian [Championship], which is a big goal of ours and a big objective of ours this season.
“Everybody’s excited because everybody’s going to get a chance to play and stake a claim in getting more and more minutes in and showing the coaches what we can do.”
With the congested schedule ahead, head coach Martin Rennie has elected to rest some of his senior players, leaving Jay DeMerit, Lee Young-Pyo, Matt Watson and Camilo in Vancouver.
Michael Boxall and Bryce Alderson are two more who will surely be disappointed to be left out, while Etienne Barbara and Caleb Clarke miss out as they continue recovering from injuries.
Coming back into the team, though, should be left full back Alain Rochat. The Swiss-Canadian has been out of action since damaging his left MCL in late March during a collision with D.C. United goalkeeper Joe Willis.
“It’s a great feeling to be back,” Rochat said. “We expect a hard game and we hope to win it.”
FC Edmonton have taken to using the #davidvsgoliath hashtag when discussing the upcoming tie on Twitter, but with the innumerable upset victories in cup situations throughout world soccer, the Whitecaps aren’t getting ahead of themselves.
“It’s a soccer game,” Thorrington said. “They’ll have 11, we’ll have 11 and we’ll approach it as seriously as we approach any game. You have to. We certainly will be showing Edmonton the respect that they deserve and go out there and obviously, like we do any game, expect a good result.
“But by no means will we be paying attention to what division we’re in and what division they’re in. It’s a game with a lot on the line for both teams.”
The Whitecaps play FC Edmonton over two legs, and if they advance, will face the winner of the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC in a two-legged final. The winner of the tournament receives an automatic place in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.