Vancouver Whitecaps defensive woes continues.
Captain Jay Demerit will be sidelined for at least six weeks. He suffered a torn tendon in his left ankle during the first half of a 3-3 draw at Philadelphia Union on June 7.
Since his return to the MLS in 2011, the 34-year-old World Cup veteran has consistently battled injuries. Last season, he only played eight games because of a ruptured Achilles tendon he suffered on the first game of the season against Toronto FC.
The 6-foot-1 center back has chosen not to have surgery. He will miss at least four games while he rehabilitates and recovers from yet another injury. He has started 11 MLS games this season.
The Whitecaps are currently fifth in the Western Conference with 21 points from 13 games, and defending hasn’t been the club’s strongest point. The Canadian club has given away 20 goals this season; eight of those goals were conceded in the last three games.
Demerit’s leadership, experience and never give up attitude are a couple of reasons why Vancouver has been very successful this season. New head coach Carl Robinson’s decision to start young players has been fruitful because of Demerit’s presence.
The former USMNT international ‒ who is currently an ESPN correspondent for the 2014 World Cup – is the voice of reason on the pitch and off the pitch. He gets along with his teammates because of his cheerful personality.
Without his leader, Robinson will have to start Honduran international Johnny Leverón. According to mlssoccer.com, “the Whitecaps have tied each of his (Leverón) three starts this season after he made 18 starts in 2013.”
Another option is Trinidad and Tobacco center back, Carlyle Mitchell. The speedy defender hasn’t featured this year, but he made 13 starts last season.
If Robinson wants to keep his young setup intact, he has two up and coming center backs on his bench. Sam Adekugbe is a 19-year-old Homegrown player and Christian Dean is a 21-year-old Generation Adidas rookie.
Adekugbe is a native of London, England who mostly plays as a left back, but can slide into the middle. He joined Vancouver on August 28, 2013, but has only featured in one game. He played the full 90 minutes of Vancouver’s 2013 season finale against the Colorado Rapids.
Robinson could elect to push the more experienced and reliable Jordan Harvey into the middle and give Adekugbe a run on the left side.
Dean is one of the brightest prospects in MLS. The former California Golden Bears center back was selected third overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. The Alvin, Texas native is a big and powerful center half with a fantastic left foot. He’s played only 13 minutes this season.
Whoever the head coach chooses to start will play alongside extremely experienced Andy O’Brien against the Montreal Impact at BC Place on June 25. The 34-year-old has appeared in every league game this season, starting 12 and creating one goal.
The former Republic of Ireland international should get the captain’s armband until Demerit returns.
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