BURNABY B.C. — Olympic qualifying didn’t go exactly to plan for Canada, but now Russell Teibert and Bryce Alderson are back with the Vancouver Whitecaps and looking to push for playing time in Major League Soccer.
Both players seemed to impress the Whitecaps coaching staff during pre-season, and were rewarded for their performances with a spot in the 18-man opening day squad. After that they joined up with the national team for the ultimately unsuccessful CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, in which Canada fell 3-1 to Mexico in the semifinals.
Despite failing to qualify for the Olympics, Canada secured a famous 2-0 victory over the United States in the group stage.
"(Teibert and Alderson) had a strong showing," Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie told Sportsnet.ca after a training session this week.
"Obviously the highlight was beating the U.S. That was a big win for Canada. Those guys looked sharp (in their first day back at Whitecaps training) and I’m sure they’ll have gained confidence from those results."
At that tournament Teibert was the starting left fullback, while Alderson played 90 minutes in central midfield in Canada’s tournament opening 0-0 draw against El Salvador. Now the hope is the experience gained during that competition can help the pair push on at club level.
Alderson, 18, is playing his first campaign as a professional, while this season will be the 19-year-old Teibert’s third year with the first team. Teibert is still very raw though, given he didn’t figure much during the NASL days and only played 11 games in 2011 due to a series of injuries.
"Losing that game to Mexico took its toll on me emotionally," Teibert said. "It’s the Olympics — you always want to go to the Olympics. I know it took a toll on a lot of the guys in the squad, but it’s a quick turnover and you have to turn that page real fast, so I’m doing that.
"I’m looking forward to the next Whitecaps game and looking to get some minutes."
Neither Teibert nor Alderson stepped on the field in Vancouver’s 2-0 victory over the Montreal Impact in the season opener, despite making the squad. But with Alain Rochat missing out due to an MCL strain and Michael Nanchoff out with a heel contusion, Rennie’s left-sided options have been reduced to Jordan Harvey and Camilo.
Against the San Jose Earthquakes this Saturday, Harvey should start at left fullback for the second week running in Rochat’s place, while Camilo is expected to return to start at left wing after missing out against the Philadelphia Union with quad tightness.
Camilo left training early on Tuesday as a precaution as he continues his recovery, so it’s doubtful he’ll play 90 minutes, and given the club’s left-sided injury problems it’s not unreasonable to think Teibert will play a part, either from the bench or from the start.
Alderson’s situation is less certain. When he made the squad on opening day John Thorrington was out injured, leaving a spot for a second backup midfielder on the bench. With the veteran’s return, Alderson may be a bit further out of the picture for the time being.
Martin MacMahon is a Vancouver-based writer who covers the Vancouver Whitecaps FC for Goal.com. Follow Martin on Twitter