Canadian Championship a chance for Whitecaps’ Teibert to shine

Vancouver-Whitecaps

Russell Teibert, left, in action for the Whitecaps. (Erika Schultz/The Seattle Times via AP)

Chances are that by now you have seen Alphonso Davies’ spectacular goal from the Vancouver Whitecaps’ road loss against D.C. United over the weekend.

The 17-year-old Canadian scored his third goal of the Major League Soccer season late in stoppage time with what should be a candidate for MLS Goal of the Year. 

As for the rest of the game film from that match, it has likely been burnt by the coaches and players. An uninspired effort resulted in a 3-1 setback to lowly D.C. United, putting the Whitecaps below the playoff line in the Western Conference.

They don’t have much time to dwell on it, though, as Vancouver returns to action on Wednesday on the road when they take on the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Canadian Club Championship semifinals
 
“I’m obviously disappointed with the result and parts of the performance,” coach Carl Robinson said following Monday’s training session in Montreal. “If you don’t get a result, then you always look at what you can do to make it better.”
 
With the Whitecaps having lost three of their last four matches, Robinson might try something different by juggling his roster at Stade Saputo.

A hectic schedule in the upcoming weeks affords Robinson the opportunity to make changes. After Wednesday’s first leg in Montreal, the Whitecaps return to MLS action Saturday in Seattle. Following that, Vancouver has two home matches next week, as they will play the Impact in the return leg before entertaining Minnesota United FC.
 
“We know we’ve got a difficult run of games on Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday,” Robinson stated. “There will be some freshness in the team. There will be a couple of changes, because they deserve to play. We’ll have our Canadian quota in, which is a positive as well.”
 
Russell Teibert will definitely be one of the homegrown Whitecaps drawing into Wednesday’s match. A native of Niagara Falls, Teibert has appeared in more Canadian Championship matches than any player in the competition’s history.
 
“I remember the emotion winning it a couple years back,” Teibert recalled of hoisting the Voyagers Cup in 2015. “It’s a championship and you want all rights to call yourself the best team in Canada.”
 
“He’s itching to play,” Robinson said of the 25 year-old Teibert, who is now into his eighth MLS season. “Whenever he plays he never lets you down. I’ll expect a big performance from him on Wednesday.”
 
Teibert has appeared in 19 Canadian Championship matches in his career, but has only played a combined 19 minutes for the Whitecaps over their last six MLS fixtures. He knows this game is as valuable for him as it is for up-and-coming players hoping to make a name for themselves in this tournament.
 
“It’s a good opportunity for a lot of young players to get some time on the field,” Teibert said. “Coming from the residency program, I remember this tournament being a shot for me to get some games. It’s a great opportunity for all of us.”
 
Teibert knows many of the younger players who are in Montreal will lean on him for advice should they be inserted into the Whitecaps lineup. His message to them is a simple one.
 
“Don’t less this moment pass you by. It’s an opportunity to prove yourself. If you take your chance, you could see yourself playing with the first team more often,” Teibert said.
 
Other Canadian-born players who could make their first team debut for the Whitecaps on Wednesday night include midfielders David Norman Jr. (a 20-year-old native of Coquitlam, BC) and Simon Colyn (a 16-year-old native of Langley, BC).

Norman was Player of the Year for the WFC2 squad last year in the USL, while Colyn joined the Whitecaps last April when he became the 15th youngest player in MLS history to sign a league contract. Both players have trained daily with the club this season. 
 
Vancouver has only won the Voyagers Cup once, when they defeated Montreal in 2015. The Impact have won it three times (2008, 2013, and 2014). Toronto FC, who have won the championship six times, including the last two years, open up their semifinal series Wednesday night on the road against the Ottawa Fury.

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