Whitecaps’ legend Carl Valentine used a car metaphor to describe young Carlyle Mitchell while introducing him to a youth soccer camp Wednesday morning at Marshall Field.
“I like to call Carlyle a Rolls Royce because he’s so smooth at central fullback,” said Valentine, an ambassador and coach with Vancouver’s Major League Soccer franchise.
Afterwards, Valentine talked about how well Mitchell fit in with the 80-plus campers.
“He came in on late notice after Gershon Koffie picked up a right adductor strain in training and needed to stay in Vancouver to receive additional treatment, and he was so interactive. It was his idea to have a race with the kids.”
Mitchell, 25, made his senior international debut for Trinidad & Tobago during a 3-1 friendly defeat at home to Caribbean rivals Jamaica in August, 2010.
The striker-turned centre back has since made three international appearances for The Soca Warriors. As a Trinidad & Tobago youth international, Mitchell made five appearances for his country’s U20 national team in 2006, and the next year made four appearances with their U23 squad in qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder had a blast at the soccer camp, one of several the Whitecaps have held all summer throughout the Interior.
“I came about sixth in the race,” smiled Mitchell. “I didn’t wanna show up the kids so I let them win.”
One of seven children, Mitchell said his childhood was pretty good as he joined his older brother, Devon (two international caps), and friends for backyard games before attending camps as a 12-year-old.
He has started two games for the Whitecaps, who visit the L.A. Galaxy in a crucial match Saturday. Vancouver holds down the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot at 10-10-7, three points back of the Galaxy and five up on FC Dallas.
“I’m enjoying the experience,” said Mitchell. “It’s tough getting into the team. It’s a very competitive team but at the same time, I have to relax and hold on ‘till you get your chance, and when you get a chance, you grasp it with both hands.”
An influx of experienced internationals is creating more exposure and panache to the MLS.
“The pace of the game is getting faster,” said Mitchell. “These new players really add to the league; they have made the league more exciting. Guys like Barry Robson, David Beckham and Robbie Keane.”
Mitchell, who loves the friendly people and sights of Vancouver, wants to play pro soccer until he’s 35. And the Barcelona supporter has accepted the challenge of becoming a defender.
“It’s tough, but as a professional soccer player, you’re supposed to be able to play any part of the field. It’s a mental thing because I love to score goals. From attack to defence, you have to adjust.”