Johnny Leveron in action for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Canadian Championship
USA Today Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps' Johnny Leveron could be in line for first MLS start at Real Salt Lake

VANCOUVER, B.C. – With Vancouver Whitecaps center back Brad Rusin a doubt due to a knee injury, Johnny Leverón could start his first Major League Soccer match on Saturday at Real Salt Lake (9 pm ET, MLS Live).

Leverón has played his first two competitive matches for the Whitecaps since his offseason arrival in recent weeks during Vancouver’s 5-2 aggregate win over FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championship.

Head coach Martin Rennie wasn’t willing to disclose whether Rusin, who has filled in well for Jay DeMerit following an Achilles tendon rupture, would travel to Utah, but said that if Leverón is needed, he’s ready for MLS play.

READ: Rusell Teibert says 'Caps "owe it to the city" to win Canadian Championship

“He’s had two games now where he’s played the full 90 minutes in those Canadian cup games,” Rennie said of Leverón after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Friday. “The last game we had a clean sheet. In the reserve games he’s been playing well.

“He’s got a great pedigree having played for Honduras over 20 times, and obviously captained the Olympic team. So I think with a lot of the younger players that we’ve got we need to give them a chance to show what they can do, and I’m sure Johnny will get his.”

If Rennie does select the 23-year-old to line up in the heart of defense, he’ll likely play alongside fellow central defender Andy O’Brien.

READ: What do the 'Caps need to do to top RSL on the road?

The 33-year-old former Irish international has been a workhorse for the club, playing every minute of every match in all competitions so far this season.

O’Brien admits it has been a challenge communicating with Leverón at times as the Spanish-speaking player has yet to pick up much English, but after playing a couple of matches together things are becoming a bit smoother on the pitch.

“It’s been fine,” the former Irish international said of communicating with Leverón. “I’m sensitive to the way that he plays and I am with every player I play with. It’s a relationship between centre-halves, fullbacks, midfield, so when new players come in … I think I’ll be learning a bit of South American, or he’ll be learning a bit of Yorkshire, I’m not sure.”

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