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One man left: The Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper emergency

Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper emergency

REUNION, FLORIDA - JULY 19: Thomas Hasal #51 of Vancouver Whitecaps FC is substituted in for Maxime Crepeau #16 due to an injury sustained against the Seattle Sounders FC during a Group B match as part of MLS is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 19, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

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The MLS is Back tournament relies on the relative safety provided by “The Bubble,” where players are cleared as safe from the coronavirus and cannot re-enter if they leave.

That’s led to a real problem for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who brought three goalkeepers into the bubble but are down to just one after Maxime Crepeau broke his thumb Tuesday.

Backup keeper Bryan Meredith left the bubble following the sudden death of his mother, and MLS rules mean the Whitecaps cannot use the league’s pool backup keeper, well-traveled Caleb Patterson-Sewell, because the player last played for Sporting KC and the transfer window is closed and he, too, left the bubble when Nashville SC withdrew from the tournament.

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So the situation is that 21-year-old Thomas Hasal is the Caps’ only goalkeeper. Hasal made his MLS debut when he subbed in for Crepeau and he looks set to play plenty.

Perhaps there’s a goalkeeper coach, perhaps on a non-groupmate, who can be signed onto the roster? The Caps’ goalkeeper coach is 48-year-old Youssef Dahha, though it’s unclear whether he’s in the bubble or in any sort of playing shape (Don’t be an ageist, reader).

Vancouver plays Chicago on Thursday in what will be its last match of MLS is Back unless it beats the Fire by two and gets out-of-group help to become one of the top four third-place finishes in the tournament.

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At least the Caps are displaying their sense of humor about the ordeal, Tweeting at former Vancouver Canucks hockey goaltender Roberto Luongo about his status. Luongo retired from the Florida Panthers after the 2019 NHL season.