VANCOUVER — A two-week break between games was supposed to help the Vancouver Whitecaps rest and recuperate following a busy start to the season.
They instead lost two more key pieces to injury.
The Major League Soccer club will be without midfielder Christian Bolanos and defender Kendall Waston for Saturday's home game against FC Dallas after the pair were hurt while away with Costa Rica for World Cup qualifying.
Bolanos injured his right shoulder in a scoreless draw against Panama on June 8, while Waston went down with a left hip problem in Tuesday's 2-1 victory over Trinidad and Tobago.
The duo have been outstanding so far in 2017 for Vancouver — Bolanos as an offensive catalyst and Waston, the club's captain, as a rock in the heart of defence.
"It's not looking good, to be fair," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson, adding the pair would probably be out at least, "a few weeks, like everyone else."
Vancouver moved into its new $32.5-million practice facility on Wednesday, and Robinson joked the trainer's room will be crowded.
The current list of walking wounded also includes midfielders Yordy Reyna (foot) and Nicolas Mezquida (ankle), as well as defender Christian Dean (foot). David Edgar, a Canadian defender brought in last summer, suffered a serious knee injury following a hit-and-run accident over the winter and is a long way off.
Reyna appears to be the closest to returning from that group, with Robinson guessing the Peruvian international will be out another two or three weeks after breaking his foot in pre-season. Meanwhile, Bernie Ibini, a striker the Whitecaps acquired last month, is on the mend from a hamstring strain and could be included this weekend. Erik Hurtado (foot) is also listed as questionable.
It all means that the Whitecaps (6-6-1) will have to shuffle the deck when Dallas (6-3-5) visits B.C. Place Stadium, likely moving away from the 4-1-4-1 formation that has worked well this season.
Vancouver could go with second-year pro Cole Seiler, midfielder Andrew Jacobson or Canadian international Marcel de Jong in Waston's spot alongside Tim Parker at centre back. Brek Shea, who missed time in the spring with a knee injury, looks like a good bet to fill in for Bolanos, while Alphonso Davies, the 16-year-old prodigy who made his debut for Canada earlier this week in a friendly, should be in the mix.
"It'll give the opportunity for other players to stand up (and) step in," said Robinson. "But we won't shout from the rooftops."
For the Whitecaps who did get a rest following Vancouver's 3-1 victory over Atlanta United on June 3, the break came at a good time after hectic schedule that saw the team play a combined five games over 15 days in both MLS and the Canadian Championship. Add to that the club's run to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals right out of the gate after pre-season, and it was a jam-packed five months.
"It was important for people to get some rest," said goalkeeper David Ousted. "That little mental break just does a lot coming into some tough games here over the summer period."
That begins Saturday against a Dallas squad that sits four points up on Vancouver in the Western Conference standings, although the fifth-place Whitecaps do have a game in hand.
The teams have been part of some heated encounters in the past, with Robinson and Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja yelling at each other from the technical area on more than one occasion.
"We're going to be expecting a hard game ... they always are against Dallas," said Robinson. "We have a decent rivalry against them, but we'll treat them with the respect they deserve and go out and try to win the game."
Vancouver comes in 4-2-0 over its last six MLS matches, while Dallas, which picked up a 2-1 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks of the second-tier USL in the domestic U.S. Open Cup tournament Wednesday, is 1-3-2 over the same span.
"Their front four or five are dangerous, especially on the break," said Ousted. "They're fast and good on the ball. But I also see opportunity in facing them with a defence I think we can get chances off of."
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press