Vancouver Whitecaps defender Tim Parker (white jersey) has one career goal in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – After dropping a 2-0 decision to host FC Dallas in 99 degree heat on Sunday, the Vancouver Whitecaps are sure to welcome the relatively cool climate of Couva, Trinidad & Tobago, come Tuesday.
Despite the long flight to the southern Caribbean and short turnaround time, temperatures expected to be in the low 80s for the opening whistle of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Group C opener against host Central FC will seem like an Arctic blast.
“I stood on the sideline and I was sweating, and I don't have to run for 90 minutes or perform at those levels,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson, following the setback to the Western Conference table topers. “I can ask if it was safe because the players become more important, but I think Dallas handled the conditions better than us. When you train in it every day, then you get more used to it than our guys, and it's not like that in Vancouver. It is what it is. No excuse. We were beaten today, but we will move on.”
Moving on for the Whitecaps is the start of a second straight SCCL campaign. Last year, they finished third in three-team Group F, staring up at Olimpia and the first-place Seattle Sounders. Wins over both set Vancouver on a seeming path to progression, but a pair of losses followed, along with elimination.
Although some of the veterans didn’t make the trip to T&T, Robinson will call upon defender Tim Parker, scorer of the Whitecaps’ first-ever SCCL goal in a 1-1 draw against Seattle on August 5, 2015, and Canada international midfielder Russell Teibert, who has three SCCL appearances to his credit.
Other notables possibly playing a role at Ato Boldon Stadium include a pair recently acquired Canada international defenders – David Edgar and Marcel de Jong.
For its part, Central FC is looking forward to the return of midfielder Keron Cummings. The 28-year-old Trinidad & Tobago international played for the Sharks during its inaugural year in 2012, but suffered a gunshot wound to his leg on December 27, 2015, while as a member of the North East Stars.
His return to competitive football is expected to provide a boost to the two-time Caribbean champion.
“We’re very pleased to have [Cummings] on board,” said Central head coach Dale Saunders. “He is an exciting player and we’re looking forward to seeing him gel with our existing squad. Cummings played for Central FC in their first season, so it’s great to see him back in a Sharks jersey.”
Like Vancouver, Central FC is competing in a second consecutive SCCL. Last year, it earned a second-place finish in Group D. After commencing with two straight away losses, the Sharks beat Comunicaciones (1-0) and drew with the LA Galaxy (1-1) at home.