Vancouver Whitecaps defender Cole Seiler, shown in action against visiting Crystal Palace in a friendly on July 19, 2016. (Photo: Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
VANCOUVER, Canada -- Major League Soccer teams learned this lesson years ago. If they are to be successful in league play and the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL) simultaneously, having all hands on deck is a necessity.
As their 2016/17 SCCL opener draws closer, the Vancouver Whitecaps strengthened depth at right back by starting rookie Cole Seiler there in two matches last week.
The 22-year-old played 61 minutes in a friendly against England’s Crystal Palace on July 19 that ended in a 2-2 draw. Four days later, he made his MLS debut – going the entire way -- in a scoreless stalemate at the Houston Dynamo.
“He showed a very mature performance and I’m pleased for him because all the guys love him in the locker room,” said head coach Carl Robinson. “He doesn’t complain. He’s never in my office asking why he’s not playing. He’s just got on with business.”
Chosen as the 16th overall pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft out of Georgetown University, Seiler waited patiently for an opportunity. He kept up his match fitness by playing 10 times with the team's United Soccer League side and also made an appearance against Ottawa Fury FC in the Amway Canadian Championship – the nation’s gateway to the SCCL.
Eight minutes into Saturday's match, the 6-1, 180-lb. Seiler endured a tense spell in the seconds after one of his passes was intercepted. Ultimately, Houston's Andrew Wenger fired an effort over the net – disaster avoided.
“It’s weird because usually you’re waiting for a good pass to unsettle your nerves but mine was more of a huge mistake and they almost scored,” Seiler expressed. “But once they didn’t score it was a huge relief.”
The Whitecaps, which sit sixth in the Western Conference (8W-6D-8L), will launch their SCCL schedule with a Group C encounter at Central FC on August 2 in Couva, Trinidad & Tobago.