VANCOUVER, B.C. – Carl Robinson is faced with a dilemma ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps' second-leg showdown of the Canadian Championship semifinal on Wednesday against Toronto FC (10:30 pm ET, FREE STREAM in the US and Mexico, Sportsnet ONE in Canada.)
Trailing 2-1 from the first game, but with what could be a deciding away goal to their credit, the first-year head coach has to decide between rewarding the young side fielded week ago or bringing in his first-choice players for the must-win game.
"There will be a change or two in there," Robinson told reporters on Monday.
He said he’ll go for a hybrid of the two options.
And one player who exemplifies that perfectly is 21-year-old midfielder Russell Teibert, who Robinson confirmed will wear the armband once again.
The Canadian international has been part of the Whitecaps organization since 2008 when he first joined its Residency program and made his professional debut for the club as a 17-year-old in 2010.
Teibert started Vancouver's first-ever MLS match against Toronto in 2011 and has impressed Robinson from when he first came to the 'Caps as assistant coach.
"I think he led the team admirably on Wednesday," Robinson said of Teibert. "It was part of his development as a player and as well as a person through this football club by making him captain because he'll be a future captain of this football club. I've got not doubt about that."
It has been a rocky road at times for Teibert in MLS, who has now played under four head coaches. With just 15 appearances in his first two seasons, he broke out last year and led the team with nine assists and scored his first two professionals goals in his 24 appearances.
"I've been part of this club for I don't know how many years now, but being the captain of the Residency program and now the first team, it was definitely a big honor on that day," Teibert said of wearing the armband in the first leg.
"I was really excited to play with a bunch of the young guys and to try and keep some of the old guys out of the squad," he said jokingly.
Some of the club's other youngsters will also continue to get their chance to shine with Robinson confirming that 17-year-old Homegrown signing Marco Carducci will once again start in goal and Vancouver's top 2014 SuperDraft pick, Christian Dean, will continue in the left-back role.
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"I'm not going to put my neck on the line to put a young group of players out that I think will get turned over badly. You've got to be stupid to do that," Robinson said. "I believe in them. I want to give them opportunities at the right time and I really did feel it was the right time in Toronto.
“I'll decide what I think is the right way to go on Wednesday to win that game because it is an important game. It's the Canadian Cup, and we want to win that."
Vancouver have never won the Canadian Championship, but have come close on several occasions while Teibert has been at the club. From that heartbreak comes the will to succeed.
"Those years are behind us. I don't think we look back on that, we look forward," Teibert said. "This team reeks of confidence right now. We are a confident team. We've had a good stretch of games, and we feel like we're playing good football right now."