VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Whitecaps attacker Russell Teibert could be set for a big role for Canada at next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
For a young player breaking into his national team, it’s difficult to imagine more ideal circumstances. Teibert is in electric form for his club, claiming six assists in league play this season – good for second in MLS.
And the man picking the Canadian team knows him well. Interim Canada head coach Colin Miller worked closely with Teibert, first as a Whitecaps FC Residency coach and then as an assistant coach with the first team.
Add in the fact that the Gold Cup squad selected clearly indicates a transitional period in which plenty of young players will get a chance to shine, and it should give Teibert a great opportunity to show what he can do at the international level.
“It’s real exciting to get the call to Canada,” Teibert told reporters recently at BC Place. “I’m just going to look to improve with the Gold Cup. We’ve got a lot of young guys that are going to be in the squad.”
Teibert is well aware having a coach who knows him likely gives him an advantage.
“It’s huge,” Teibert said of his relationship with Miller. “I think he knows my quality as a player and I think he knows what I’m capable of. I think he’s been watching the past couple of games, so hopefully I’ll get some time.”
Still, where the 20-year-old Niagara Falls native lines up remains a mystery. In a media call on Tuesday, Miller suggested he plans to use Teibert as a winger, much like he has played during this successful run with the Whitecaps in recent weeks.
Teibert began the year with Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie planning to use him as a central midfielder.
Previously the player had spent some time at left fullback as well – partially on the insistence of Miller, during Tom Soehn’s time as coach in 2011.
“If I tell you my team, I’ll have to kill you after this,” the Scottish-born Miller joked on a conference call when asked where he would use Teibert. “I can’t really say too much, but there’s no question that the energy and the fitness level he has, we’ll certainly say that he’ll play in the midfield, for sure.
“Whether that’s on the right or the left remains to be seen, but the beauty of having a left-footed player playing on the right side is exactly how Russell has been playing [in Vancouver]. He can cut in and he can shoot, and he can cause fullbacks real problems there.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.