Whitecaps FC host top Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday

'Caps gear up for MLS leaders Sporting KC at BC Place

Whitecaps FC Sporting Kansas City

Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

VANCOUVER, BC - After taking an extended break following their first setback of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-1L-2D) return to Bell Pitch at BC Place for a busy week of league action as they host top Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City (6W-0L-0D) on Wednesday night and Western Conference rivals FC Dallas (3W-2L-1D) on Saturday.

Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and Sporting Kansas City at BC Place kicks off at 7 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus Sporting Kansas City can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

Nearly a week-and-a-half has passed since Whitecaps FC’s first defeat of 2012, so plenty of time for Martin Rennie’s squad to assess what was an interesting match in San Jose on April 7. Take away an 11-minute spell in the second half that secured the result for the Earthquakes, there were many things to build on for Vancouver. The much-lauded attacking qualities of the Blue and White showed real promise of breaking out in their last match, with Eric Hassli looking particularly influential with his commitment and link-up play versus San Jose. It is an area of the squad that now offers several options for Rennie. Atiba Harris is available after serving a one-match suspension against the Earthquakes, while Camilo Sanvezzo is fit again after overcoming an issue with his quad.

The ‘Caps will look at the opportunity of ending Sporting KC’s perfect start to the season as a springboard into a busy spell of action. Saturday’s all-important clash with FC Dallas will quickly follow, then a trip to Ohio for their lone regular season meeting versus Eastern Conference side Columbus Crew on Saturday, April 28. Early next month, the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship begins for Whitecaps FC, as Rennie’s side set take on North American Soccer League outfit FC Edmonton in a two-match, aggregate-goal semifinal series, with the Voyageurs Cup title and Canada’s lone spot in the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League at stake.

Whitecaps FC are without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and defender Alain Rochat (both knee) for Wednesday’s game, as well as striker Darren Mattocks (shoulder and arm burns). Midfielder Michael Nanchoff (heel) and striker Etienne Barbara (groin) are listed as doubtful.

SPORTING KC

Setting the early pace, MLS observers have already tipped Sporting KC as a serious MLS Cup contender after an outstanding start to their league campaign. Victories over D.C. United, New England Revolution, FC Dallas, Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, and Real Salt Lake has seen Peter Vermes’ squad make the best start to a season by any club in MLS since the Galaxy in 1998. Their hard-working, high-pressure style of play has resulted in the American Midwest outfit sitting firmly atop the Eastern Conference standings. Wednesday’s game will be Sporting KC’s 500th MLS regular season match in club history.

Kansas City have several talented and experienced players in one of the league’s most settled squads. Danish goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen is in his third season with the club, while Frenchman Aurelien Collin anchors a very solid defensive backline. The Sporting KC midfield includes the league’s top assist man in Graham Zusi and one of seven new acquisitions in Bobby Convey, who joined Sporting KC in a trade from San Jose last December. In Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara and 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year C.J. Sapong, Sporting KC have two strikers that have played a key role in their club’s impressive start to 2012.

Sporting KC will be without goalkeeper Eric Kronberg (lower back) and Brazilian centre back Julio Cesar (hamstring) for their trip to Vancouver. Defender Cyprian Hedrick (Achilles) is listed as doubtful.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Wednesday’s contest is the third competitive match between Vancouver and Kansas City, with both clubs first meeting in MLS last year. Their inaugural meeting at Empire Field on April 2, 2011, became one of the most memorable matches in club history. After two goals by Teal Bunbury and a strike by Kamara gave Sporting KC a three-goal lead, Whitecaps FC staged a remarkable comeback to earn an improbable 3-3 draw. Harris scored first before Camilo dramatically struck twice in second-half stoppage time to earn a point for Whitecaps FC. The next meeting went Kansas City’s way on June 25, 2011. Though Camilo gave the ‘Caps an early lead at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park, goals by Mexican international Omar Bravo and Brazilian defender Julio Cesar gave Sporting KC a 2-1 victory. Their last encounter was in preseason, with Whitecaps FC defeating Sporting KC 3-0 at the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Florida, on February 29.

There are several connections between both sets of players. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon was teammates with Convey at San Jose in 2009 and 2010, as well as Kamara at the Earthquakes in 2008. Cannon also played with Sporting KC’s Jacob Peterson at Colorado Rapids in 2006. Whitecaps FC’s Jordan Harvey played for the UCLA Bruins, as did Kansas City defenders Chance Myers and Shawn Singh. During their NCAA Division I careers, 'Caps defender Greg Klazura and Sporting KC midfielder Michael Thomas captained University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

NEXT UP: FC DALLAS

Following the midweek clash with Sporting KC, Whitecaps FC return to MLS action on Saturday night, as they host Western Conference rivals FC Dallas at BC Place on Saturday night at 7 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus FC Dallas can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $295, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.