As the Vancouver Whitecaps head across the country to take on New England, captain Jay DeMerit is not with them.
With the 34-year-old defender coming off an injury-plagued few years, coach Carl Robinson has mapped out a specific plan for the season with predetermined waypoints set as moments DeMerit and others could be rested.
“When I took the job, obviously, it was a case of – I’ve got three 34-year-olds within my squad, Jay, Andy (O’Brien), and Kenny (Miller)” Robinson said.
“So I mapped out a plan of what I wanted, and how I thought I could best protect these guys because it is a 34 game season – regular season, plus playoffs, plus Canadian cup.”
With the team heading a long distance away to play a struggling New England squad, it makes sense that Robinson would select this fixture to rest DeMerit.
In addition, the Whitecaps have three home games in their next four matches, so leaving DeMerit home seriously limits his travel requirements in the coming month.
Another possible fixture that could be tabbed as a rest date for the older players could be a trip to Philadelphia on June 7. It’s the club’s only other trip to the east coast in the first four months of the season.
Robinson said he wasn’t sure who would be the man to replace DeMerit in the back line, but possibilities include Johnny Leveron, Christian Dean, and Carlyle Mitchell. Leveron is recovering off a concussion which caused him to miss last weekend’s draw with Chivas.