Former, albeit brief, Toronto FC academy product Russell Teibert is settling in nicely this season with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The diminutive midfielder from Niagara Falls, Ontario has featured in seven of the Whitecaps eight matches thus far this season, primarily being deployed on the left flank of head coach Carl Robinson’s diamond shaped midfield.
Position flexibility has been one of Teibert’s greatest assets, as the 21-year-old is equally adept at playing on the wing or in a central holding role in the middle of the park.
According to Whitecaps reporter Martin MacMahon, Teibert is not picky about where he suits up and is happy to contribute to the club in any way that he can.
“From the beginning of the season, the boss [coach Robinson] had told me, there's a couple of positions I can play,” Teibert said. “It's important to be able to play in different positions, as it gives you a better chance to get on the field.
“Whatever position the boss decides to put me in, I'm happy to play for him.”
The Canadian experienced a career breakout last season with Vancouver, starting in 19 of his 24 league appearances and recording the first two goals of his young career against the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 11, 2013.
He also led last year’s club in assists with nine, tying a club record, and brought his boundless energy and enthusiasm to each and every contest he featured in.
“The two goals were a blur, probably one of the best moments of my life,” the Niagara Falls native said.
Since making his debut for the Canadian national team on August 15, 2012 against Trinidad and Tobago, Teibert has featured prominently for the Whitecaps for the better part of the last two seasons.
Teibert has faced some stiff competition in midfield for playing time in Vancouver, with Nigel Reo-Coker a fixture when fit and fellow talented youngster Nicolas Mezquida vying for more minutes, but has thus far been able to hold on to his place in the Whitecap’s starting line-up.
The midfielder will have to bring the same level of desire and fight to earn a place on the Canadian men’s national team, as competition is fierce among the young players aiming to make up the nucleus of the squad there as well.
However, Teibert’s aforementioned position flexibility should serve him well as he tries to cement a spot on the senior squad, as international coaches often place position-flexible players at a premium for selection due to roster limitations.
Thus far in his international career, he has been capped for the national team seven times (with four starts), and was a member of Canada’s 2013 Gold Cup team that was eliminated in the group phase of the tournament.
Teibert and the Whitecaps return to action on May 3rd, when they play host to the visiting San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place.