Davide Chiumiento speaks five languages — but the Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder is still looking for the right way to let his talent talk for him on the pitch.
Chiumiento will continue his lobbying session for a regular starting spot Wednesday as the Whitecaps host FC Edmonton in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship series.
The 27-year-old Swiss midfielder is expected to start for only the second time in five games as the Whitecaps try to clinch a berth in the Canadian final.
“It's a big chance to show everybody that it was a bad decision,” said Chiumiento of his recent benching after a late-afternoon practice at B.C. Place Stadium. “I like to play with a little bit of pressure.”
Chiumiento, a 28-year-old native of Heiden, Switzerland, speaks English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, which is the first language of his daughter and her mother. He is the son a father from mainland Italy and mother from Sicily. But after spending his youth in a German-speaking region of Switzerland and Italy, he is hard pressed to determine his first language.
He hopes to pick up where he left off Saturday, when he came off the bench in the second half and set up Eric Hassli for the winning goal just seconds before the conclusion of a 2-1 comeback win over the Major League Soccer-leading San Jose Earthquakes. However, Chiumiento could not earn a start after playing a full 90 minutes in the opening leg of this series.
“It was — it is — difficult, because I played six games from the beginning and then one (until) the other game,” he said. “You don't see the field for two or three weeks. It's not easy, but that's part of football. We won, so that's really important for the team, for the staff and for my teammates. But, personally, I would love to play.”
Chiumiento, who has just the one assist this season, also struggled to stay in the lineup last year as the Whitecaps played out the string in a mediocre expansion campaign in which they finished last. He fell out of favour with then interim coach Tommy Soehn, was left off the travelling roster for closing road games and watched the last home game in street clothes.
As a result, he slimmed down in the off-season after his weight and fatigue were cited by his coaches and himself during the 2011 campaign, when he still produced a respectable two goals and nine assists.
“Too many good restaurants in Vancouver,” he said with a smile. “The food in this city is amazing. No ... I had a better pre-season this year. Last year, I had three hamstring injuries. And when I felt weird, I had an injury, and then I didn't play for six weeks. This year, I didn't have injuries and I feel really comfortable with my body.
“At the end of the season, me and (Soehn), we always had a lot of respect, but sometimes not everybody sees football in the same way. Last year was frustrating for everybody — for the coaches, for me, for the whole team, for the club. It was a different year. Sometimes it's not always. When you lose a lot of games, you are not always happy. But it was nothing personal.”
He attributed his benching this season, which resulted following a 3-1 loss in San Jose in early April, to the team's overall poor play and new coach Martin Rennie's desire to adjust his lineup. Then the Whitecaps went on a strong run — they are unbeaten in three league games and four overall.
“Football can change from one day to the other,” Chiumiento said. “Because of that, you always have to be ready and know, when it's your game, you have to make a great one.”
Edmonton, which plays in the second-tier North American Soccer League, will also need an outstanding — and improbable — performance against the Whitecaps. Away goals serve as the first tiebreaker, so Edmonton will have difficulty just to force overtime.
Chiumiento is not dismissing the Alberta squad's chances.
“It's a really important game — it's a semifinal,” Chiumiento said. “Everybody thinks, yeah, they are easy games, but they are really difficult.”
Calling Chiumiento's Vancouver best playmaker, Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit said the midfielder has made it difficult for Rennie to keep him out of the lineup.
“He's got great vision, he's got good feet, so he can make passes and create things out of nothing,” DeMerit said. “Those are the kind of players that we need on the offensive end.”
Rennie dismissed the notion that Chiumento has had trouble staying in the lineup.
“I think he has stuck in the lineup,” Rennie said. “I think he's played almost every game. He's played more than most guys. So I think he has definitely stuck in the lineup.”
The coach said he has been very happy with Chiumiento, noting he has made some good plays. Rennie chalked up Chiumiento's absences from the lineup to the usual squad rotation during a busy time in the season.
“When we're game upon game upon game, we rotate it so that guys are fresh and 100 per cent, and that means we get the most out of them when they play,” Rennie said.
“Hopefully, we'll get that again (Wednesday).”
Notes: Brad Knighton is expected to start in goal for Vancouver after he also played during the opening leg. ... Striker Darren Mattocks, who has missed the whole season while recovering from burns sustained in a cooking accident, has been added to the lineup and could play Wednesday, said Rennie.
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