Russell Teibert has started two consecutive matches for the Vancouver Whitecaps and looked impressive -- but has head coach Martin Rennie underused the 20-year-old Canadian?
This weekend marked the 20-year-old Canadian’s first consecutive starts for the ‘Caps since the first two matches of the club’s inaugural Major League Soccer season.
On Saturday, Teibert looked poised in possession and constantly showed for his teammates while putting in plenty of running on the defensive side of the ball.
The Niagara Falls native showed so well in fact he was named the sponsor’s man of the match.
So – let’s get this straight – he was only good enough to play 117 minutes over four matches last season, and now this year he gets man of the match honours in just his second appearance?
The party line is that head coach Martin Rennie left Teibert to develop in the reserves and in training sessions rather than expose him too soon to first team football on a regular basis – with the favourite expression floating around that the Scottish tactician broke him down to build him back up again.
But from where I’m sitting – there was nothing needed to break down. We all saw what Teibert did on his MLS debut on opening day in 2011, when he dominated down the left flank.
Yes, that was a terrible Toronto FC team, and yes, it was just one game – and I don’t think anybody’s saying Teibert would have been a saviour in that season before his toe injury, or indeed a star player in 2012.
What some of us are wondering, however, is why a player with clearly a lot to give was left to play such a peripheral role until these last couple of weeks?
A player with his quality on the ball would surely have been useful to try on a more regular basis last season once the club hit its midseason speedbump and increasingly struggled in possession.
To take it a step further, if he wasn’t rated to contribute at the club last season, why wasn’t he loaned out to get further game time?
It’s all water under the bridge now assuming the player continues to receive an opportunity to play regularly, but it still makes one wonder about how a player of his pedigree was essentially shelved last season.
For Canadian soccer fans, this story appears to be moving in the proper direction – but while some will happily lap up the idea of the player being “reinvented,” others will ponder whether Teibert was an underused resource who also suffered a level of career stagnation for no apparent reason in 2012.
On the positive side, from a developmental standpoint, the Whitecaps announced on Tuesday that 20-year-old midfielder Ben Fisk and 24-year-old Emmanuel Adjetey will join the Charleston Battery on season-long loan deals.
Fisk has represented Canada at the U-20 level and scored four goals in 11 matches for the Whitecaps U-23 side in 2012.
Adjetey is a Ghanaian who linked up with the side for preseason in February after playing in the Ghana Premier League for Liberty Professionals and Ashanti Gold SC.
“Ben has been one of the top young players we have had come through our Residency program and Emmanuel is a raw talent who we are interested in seeing further development,” Rennie said in a club statement. “Playing minutes is vital for both of these young players. They are in a great environment with the Charleston Battery organization, so we’re really excited to see how they progress.”
Fisk played the full second half in a 4-1 defeat to the Richmond Kickers on Saturday. Adjetey will link up with the Battery once his paperwork is sorted.