Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos responds to questions during a media availability ahead of the MLS soccer team’s training camp, in Vancouver, on Monday January 21, 2019. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple syrup now that there are so many Canadians on the roster.

Head coach Marc Dos Santos said he didn’t plan on filling the team with homegrown talent, but 11 of the club’s 19 players are Canadian.

Seven Canucks were on the squad at the same time last year.

The Whitecaps’ lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season.

The newly revamped roster includes more Canadians simply because they’re talented athletes, Dos Santos said.

“That’s good for Canada, because if it was an intention, like I’m doing a favour for somebody or the country, it would be sometimes bad,” said the coach, who’s from Montreal.

Many of the Canadians have suited up for the national team in recent years, either at the senior or youth levels.

Four current ‘Caps donned the maple leaf in November when Canada beat St. Kitts and Nevis 1-0 in a CONCACAF Nations League qualifier.

The squad also included Alphonso Davies, the dazzling teenage midfielder who the Whitecaps transferred to German soccer giant Bayern Munich in a blockbuster deal in July.

Having familiar faces around helps create chemistry and cohesion, said midfielder Russell Teibert, who suits up from both the Whitecaps and Team Canada.

“If you’re around that person, around that player, around that team day in and day out, you’ll understand their tendencies on and off the field,” he said.

“I think the guys that have been a part of (coach) John Herdman’s Canadian squad, we really do feel like we’re on to something special there. So it’s nice to bring what we’re doing with the Canadian national team back to our club this year.”

The national team comradery is part of what influenced 21-year-old Derek Cornelius to sign with Vancouver last week. He had been playing overseas for years, most recently with the Serbian club FK Javor Ivanjica.

Cornelius said he knew a lot of Whitecaps players from Team Canada.

“Speaking with them, they said (Vancouver’s) a good place to play and it’s something I wanted to be a part of,” the centre back said.

It will be good for Cornelius to be around so many national team players on a daily basis, said Doneil Henry, who played with the young defender twice in international play last year.

Going into his eighth Major League Soccer season, Henry believes he has experience to share with Cornelius.

“He’s a young centre half and he has all the tools to be really great,” said the 25-year-old.

“And me being a little bit more experienced, I can help him along the way. That’s what I wish I had when I was growing up, coming through the youth levels and even in Europe, that I had an older centre back who wanted to see me do well and kind of put me under his shoulder and teach me the ropes.”

READ MORE: Vancouver Whitecaps acquire Canadian international Derek Cornelius

There may be a point during this season where Dos Santos temporarily loses a large part of his Canadian contingent to national team duty.

Canada is vying for a spot in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, which is being held across the U.S. in June and July.

But Dos Santos isn’t worried.

“It’s so tough to build the roster while at the same time thinking about all of that. It’s going to drive you crazy,” the coach said.

“If all of our team go to their national team, the first sign is it’s because they’re good. You have to have some quality to be an international. And if that makes some of the academy kids have to step up and take opportunities, that’s good for the club too. We want to make sure that we have in our club the best players possible.”

Meanwhile, the Whitecaps acquired Spanish midfielder Jon Erice with targeted allocation money on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old has spent the majority of his career in Spain, including more than 200 matches in La Liga 2.

“Jon brings a wealth of experience to our club and has played consistently in highly competitive environments,” Dos Santos said in a statement. “He has a strong understanding of the demands we require in the defensive midfielder position. He’s an excellent distributor of the ball, technical, tenacious, and another important piece as we continue to build our roster.”

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan short story contest winners to be annouced at Milkcrate Records

The public reading is free and open to the public

Duck rescue: Kelowna men save ducklings from storm drain

Local retirees saved some local ducks from certain death.

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: Sunshine and clouds for Tuesday

Environment Canada is forecasting a mixed bag of conditions

Mounties identify woman found dead on Kelowna beach

“Our investigators do not believe criminality was involved.”

Pacific Poke bowl lovers can get a free taste at the restaurant’s ‘Grand Opening Event’

The restaurant will offer some of its specials Thursday evening at its Kelowna location

Easter bombings a response to New Zealand attacks, says Sri Lanka minister

The Islamic State group asserted it was responsible for the nine bombings

Two back-to-back earthquakes strike off Vancouver Island

The first earthquake happened at 1:27 p.m., the second at 2:44 p.m.

Salmon Arm couple suspect dog died after eating poisonous plant on hike

Beloved healthy English Springer Spaniel dies suddenly while hiking Shuswap trail

New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

But advocates say it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved largely as a result of government actions

‘Significant changes’ coming for Okanagan River Channel tubing company

The Penticton Indian Band’s Coyote Cruises is seeking to grow its business in the coming years.

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

South Okanagan community bands together on social media after shootings

Many in Penticton have turned to social media to express their condolences

PHOTOS: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says ‘I do’ on Earth Day

May and John Kidder got married Monday morning in Victoria

Okanagan resort seeking connnection to rail trail

Predator Ridge Resort slated to present wish for trail from resort to ORT to Vernon council

Most Read