Out of favour Vancouver Whitecaps such as goalkeeper Brad Knighton and defender Jordan Harvey will be hoping to use the Canadian Championship to get back in the first team.VANCOUVER – The Canadian Championship is more than just a small domestic tournament in which four clubs compete for the Voyageurs Cup.
It’s a chance to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League and compete against the region’s best. But on an individual level, a number of established Major League Soccer players in the Vancouver Whitecaps squad will be looking to once again show what they’re capable of.
Goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who finished the 2012 season as the Whitecaps starting goalkeeper only to lose his spot to Joe Cannon in preseason, is one such player looking forward to playing competitively for the first time in 2013 this Wednesday in the Canadian Championship semifinal first leg against FC Edmonton at Commonwealth Stadium.
“I’m thrilled,” Knighton said after a training session on Monday at the University of British Columbia. “Any time to be able to get back in the lineup and prove you deserve to be in there is an opportunity. If he calls my name on Wednesday I’m looking forward to it and just to show I shouldn’t have lost my spot at the beginning of the year."
He added: “That’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes, but you got to fight and claw your way back in, and make sure you don’t lose your spot again.”
Jordan Harvey is another player who perhaps might feel hard done by after finishing 2012 strongly as the starting left fullback following Alain Rochat’s transition into midfield. This season the California native hasn’t played at all due to Rochat’s move back to defence.
“It’s been really tough,” Harvey said when asked about his season so far. “I mean – it hasn’t been. So, I’m hoping to get in the lineup Wednesday and prove my worth.”
While FC Edmonton plays in the second tier, Harvey insists the team isn’t being complacent in its preparations.
“I don’t see any of that in our team right now,” Harvey said. “We’re fired up and we’re looking forward to it. We’ll bring a good squad.”
Given the Whitecaps’ poor recent Major League Soccer form, in which they’ve failed to win in their last five matches, head coach Martin Rennie insists the players that come in on Wednesday can use this to make a push into consideration for use in league play.
“Everybody can see that they’re going to get a chance to play,” the Scotsman said of some of the fringe players coming into the side for Wednesday’s clash. “But it’s up to them to take that chance when it comes along.
“The reality is, once the team is settled and once everyone is in there and doing well, it’s going to be very hard to get in there. Now’s the time to step up. Now’s the time to perform.”