Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Healthy Midfielder Ghazal Still Battling for a Spot in Whitecaps' Lineup

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Healthy Midfielder Ghazal Still Battling for a Spot in Whitecaps' Lineup

Article excerpt

Ghazal battling for playing time with Caps

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VANCOUVER - Getting healthy again was only part of the challenge for Aly Ghazal to get back on the field with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The hard-nosed midfielder hurt his hamstring in the week prior to the opening of the Major League Soccer season. That injury healed, but then the 26-year-old from Cairo had to battle his own teammates for a spot in the lineup.

"It's difficult when you have a good squad," Ghazal said after a Vancouver training session this week. "It's difficult for everyone because everyone needs to fight for your position.

"That's why it took a bit longer when I came off the injury. The guys are playing and doing well."

Ghazal is expected to see action when Los Angeles Football Club (2-2-0) plays their first game against the Whitecaps (3-2-1) Friday at BC Place Stadium.

At six-foot-two and 192 pounds, Ghazal is noted for his ability to win balls and isn't afraid to stick his nose in opponent's faces. These attributes bring praise from Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson.

"He's strong, he's athletic, he's quick," said Robinson. "He's a very simple player. He's a nuts and bolts player.

"When you put him in the team you add a little bit of strength and power."

Ghazal substituted in for 16 minutes in the Whitecaps' win at Columbus two weeks ago. He was dressed but didn't play in last week's loss on the road against Real Salt Lake.

The depth on the Whitecaps' roster means players must compete all week for a chance to play on game day.

"I like to carry two players in each spot for competition for places," said Robinson. "Competition brings out the best in players."

Ghazal doesn't argue with Robinson's logic.

"It is very good for a team when you have a group of players," he said. "It's very good for the team and it's very good for even the players because everyone will need to improve more (and must) work on the parts he doesn't have."

The Whitecaps, who are second in the MLS Western Conference with 10 points, have played four of their six games on the road this season. …

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