Barry Robson’s long wait is about to end.
The star Scottish midfielder will suit up for his first game with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday as they visit the Colorado Rapids.
Robson, who has 17 caps for Scotland’s national team, signed with Vancouver in February but had to complete the English Premier League season with Middlesbrough. Then he had to wait until an international transfer window opened June 27 before he was eligible to play in Major League Soccer.
“It’s been hard for me to see as many games as I would like to,” Robson said. “We’ll see them quite quickly.”
The Whitecaps (7-4-5) are aiming to put out a strong effort after bowing 3-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy last week. Vancouver was never really in the road game as Galaxy stars Robbie Keane and David Beckham worked some of their on-field magic.
They will be hoping to get back on track with a second win against the Rapids (7-8-1), who they defeated 1-0 at BC Place on June 16.
Robson brings European experience to the Whitecaps. In addition to Middlesbrough, which wanted him back, he has starred for Glasgow Celtic and Dundee United while playing in such major competitions as UEFA Cup and Champions League.
He expects MLS to be slower than what he is used to overseas, but still expects to be able to handle himself well.
“I’ve never had to rely on pace,” said Robson, 33. “I’ve never been lightning-quick, but there’s still plenty in the locker to offer, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Robson is comfortable playing in any part of the midfield. He has not taken his insertion in the lineup for granted because the Whitecaps went unbeaten in four games before their loss to L.A.
But his readiness is timely, because Vancouver will play without midfielders John Thorrington (injury) and Jun Marques Davidson (suspension). Although other players are listed or line up as midfielders, they often focus on attacking roles.
The Whitecaps are looking to Robson to upgrade a midfield that has been decent but rarely dominant with Thorrington, Gershon Koffie and Davide Chiumiento among the most reliable. Coach Martin Rennie wants Robson to provide goals that other midfielders have been unable to muster.
“We haven’t scored too many goals from midfield and, right now, I think it’s important to add that to our game,” Rennie said.
Robson scored nine goals in league play for Middlesbrough in 2011-12, his second and final season with the EPL club. He had five in his first campaign.
Koffie is the only pure midfielder who has scored this season, and only once.
Rennie has indicated that Robson will play a prominent role whether he starts or comes off the bench.
“We’ll see how the game goes,” Robson said. “It’s not about one player. It’s about the whole team. Let’s hope we can get a result.”
Vancouver fans will have to wait before they can see Robson in action at home. The Whitecaps are in the midst of a five-game road trip.
After Wednesday, they will play three more games away from home. before he can take to the B.C. Place pitch against the Galaxy on July 18.
Robson, who is still getting his family settled, hopes the extended road stint helps him bond with his new teammates.
“It’s good to get to know the players better,” Robson said. “They’re good guys from what I’ve seen so far. So I’ll spend some time with them over the next couple of weeks, and I’ll be enjoying it.”
Notes: Colorado will play without defender Anthony Wallace (Achilles) and midfielder Pablo Mastroeni (headaches). ... Strikers Atiba Harris (knee) and Omar Salgado (foot) remain out of the Vancouver lineup.
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