VANCOUVER, B.C. – Center backs in Vancouver are becoming an endangered species.
Andy O’Brien is the latest to join the walking wounded after tweaking his hamstring this week, leaving him out of commission for the team’s matchup against the visiting New England Revolution on Saturday (10 pm ET, MLS Live).
Brad Rusin is sidelined with a calf injury sustained a few weeks ago, and Jay DeMerit is still questionable to return this season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.
The man to benefit from all this appears to be Carlyle Mitchell, the 25-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international who the team has used sparingly since his signing in 2011. He’s played just five league games and this season has yet to play in Whitecaps colors after being shipped to NASL side FC Edmonton for a season-long loan.
The team recalled Mitchell from Edmonton following O’Brien’s injury last weekend, but there were doubts initially about his availability due to an ankle problem. It seems now, however, he’s overcome the injury and will start this weekend.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to start on the weekend,” Mitchell told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday following a training session at the University of British Columbia. “I’m pretty excited. It’s the first game in many months.”
The central defender feels playing in Edmonton under former Whitecaps assistant coach and current interim Canada boss Colin Miller over the past couple of months has helped his game, and will stand him in good stead against the Revs this weekend.
“The loan at FC Edmonton has been a pretty good experience,” Mitchell said. “I got playing time under my belt, so I’ve got to bring some of my experience from FC Edmonton to this game.”
The match won’t be without its challenges for Mitchell, however, whose expected central defensive partner Johnny Leverón is still learning English. Mitchell himself can be difficult to understand with his speedy Caribbean accent, but the defender brushed off the suggestion that communication would be an issue.
“There is a language issue,” Mitchell said. “But football is one language, you know?”