Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson will be dressing a very youthful lineup featuring some Canadian content when they visit Toronto FC on Wednesday night in the first leg of the Canadian championship semi final at BMO field. With his team scheduled to play three games in the span of eight days, Robinson has little choice but to allow youth to be served in the interest of keeping his veterans fresh.
Whitecaps FC (3-2-4) are unbeaten in their last three contests and are coming off an impressive 3-2 win over San Jose Earhquakes at BC Place last Saturday. The club will remain out East following Wednesday’s match and continue on to Columbus for a game on Saturday evening.
The Caps left Vancouver on Monday afternoon with a rather large squad of 26 players on board for the road trip and Robinson let it be known that he plans on starting Canadian youngsters in 17-year-old goalkeeper Marco Carducci and 20-year-old midfielder Bryce Alderson on Wednesday night. Carducci, a native of Calgary who’s twice been named Canadian under-17 player of the year , gets the surprise call ahead of backup keeper Paolo Tornaghi who has yet to make an appearance for his new club this season. Fellow Canadian midfielder Russell Tiebert will also be a part of the starting 11, while other Canadian talent including midfielders Marco Bustos and Kranz Froese will be a part of the available 18-player lineup on Wednesday.
With striker Darren Mattocks not available after suffering a hamstring injury on Saturday combined with the departure of veteran forward Kenny Miller as of Sunday due to a mutual contract termination the Caps are a little thin up front. As a result they recalled injury prone striker Omar Salgado from Charleston Battery of USL Pro on Tuesday, the 20-year old has recorded two goals and an assist in five appearances while on loan with Carolina and will be available for selection on Wednesday. Exciting young forward Kekuta Manneh will not start but will likely see some game action while fellow speedster Erik Hurtado should figure prominently.
Robinson will rest several veterans including starting centre backs Andy O’brien and Jay DeMerit with Johnny Leveron and Carlyle Mitchell taking their respective places. Right back Jordan Harvey will also see a well deserved rest as he’ll be replaced by the versatile Christian Dean who was a first round draft pick last off season. Of note it would appear that midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker who’s fallen out of favor early in the season may start and at the very least will play, after not seeing action in six straight contests.
The opponent Toronto FC (3-4-0) isn’t expected to be gracious hosts to their Canadian rivals having lost three straight games. Coach Ryan Nelson has said this week that designated players Jermaine Defoe, Michael Bradley and Gillberto will likely play on Wednesday. However Brazilian starting goalkeeper Julio Cesar will sit out in favor of former starter Joe Bendik.
Kickoff is scheduled for just after 4:30 pm PST as Whitecaps FC look to avoid being runners up for a sixth straight year in the tournament. The winner of the Canadian championship that also features FC Edmonton and defending champion Montreal Impact, will hoist the Voyageurs Cup and will earn a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League.