Whitecaps FC prepare for Cascadia Cup opener this weekend

'Caps host arch-rivals Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon

VANCOUVER, BC - Playing the first Cascadia Cup derby match of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-3L-2D) host Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC (7W-2L-1D) in Major League Soccer on Saturday afternoon.

Fresh off a competitive first leg in the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) final, the Blue and White turn their focus back to MLS matters this weekend and the first of three crucial Western Conference encounters versus their long-time foes from The Emerald City. Seattle are looking to bounce back after last weekend’s home defeat to Real Salt Lake ended a five-match winning streak. Saturday’s match will be the first time in just over 17 years that Whitecaps FC and Sounders FC have met on Bell Pitch at BC Place. Their last encounter in the downtown Vancouver stadium was in the American Professional Soccer League days, as Seattle defeated Vancouver 2-1 on May 12, 1995.

Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Seattle Sounders FC at BC Place kicks off at 2 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 Seattle Sounders FC can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 2 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 12 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

In the midst of an important phase of their season, Whitecaps FC are looking for improvement when Seattle visit this weekend. Though Eric Hassli’s late equalizer versus Toronto FC was highlight real stuff, Martin Rennie’s squad were disappointed not to claim an advantage from the ACC final, first leg, for next week. A better performance will be required on Saturday, as the ‘Caps look to underline their credentials as a top side in the highly-competitive Western Conference.

Helping the ‘Caps in this very busy month of May is the availability of near fully-fit squad, which allowed Rennie to name a very strong 18-player roster on Wednesday night. Only goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee) remains on the sidelines, while striker Atiba Harris (quad) is listed as questionable. The Scotsman will likely approach this weekend in the same manner as he did in midweek, as the ‘Caps look to have their entire squad make a contribution over the next week, with derby battles versus TFC and Portland Timbers still to come.

SOUNDERS FC

MLS season four is full of promise for Seattle, with Sigi Schmid’s squad already establishing themselves among the top sides in MLS at the one-third mark of the season. Sounders FC have enjoyed being on their travels after establishing an undefeated road record of 2W-0L-1D this term. They also have the stingiest defence in the league, having only conceded four goals in 10 matches to this stage. The Washington State outfit also boast some potent attacking weapons in Colombian goalscorer Fredy Montero and Argentine playmaker Mauro Rosales. Former UCLA standout David Estrada looks set for a breakout year in his third season with the club, while United States international Eddie Johnson is looking to kick-start his career with Seattle after a tough recent spell in Europe.

Sounders FC will be without goalkeeper Josh Ford (knee), defender Michael Tetteh (hamstring), midfielder Steve Zakuani (leg), and striker Babayele Sodade (knee) for Saturday’s match. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip), defender Patrick Ianni (lower back), and midfielder Brad Evans (calf) are listed as doubtful, while defender Leo Gonzalez and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez (both quad) are listed as probable.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday's match is the third MLS meeting between Vancouver and Seattle, and the 114th time these Interstate 5 rivals have met in a competitive contest. Their first-ever MLS meeting on June 11, 2011, was a memorable match at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, as Hassli wrote his name into Whitecaps FC folklore with his spectacular volleyed equalizer that earned Vancouver a 2-2 draw in The Emerald City. Their last competitive meeting on September 24, 2011, went the way of Seattle, who hoisted the Cascadia Cup after a 3-1 victory at Empire Field. Though Camilo Sanvezzo gave Whitecaps FC the lead (pictured), Sounders FC won the final MLS game at the East Vancouver venue with an equalizing penalty from Evans before Montero struck twice in four second-half minutes for the win. Both clubs met in preseason on February 6, with Vancouver and Seattle drawing 1-1 at Grande Sport World in Casa Grande, Arizona.

Prior to facing each other in MLS last year, Whitecaps FC and Sounders FC met in no less than 111 competitive meetings between 1974 and 2008. The first 28 matches took place in the old NASL between 1974 and 1983, with the 'Caps recording 17 wins and 11 defeats versus Sounders FC. This included a home record of 10 wins and four defeats during that time. Soccer fans in both cities then had to wait until 1994 for the rivalry to be renewed, with Sounders FC claiming the upper hand during their 83 meetings in the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1). Between 1994 and 2008, Sounders FC recorded 43 wins, 25 defeats, and 15 draws versus Whitecaps FC. This included 19 wins, 16 defeats, and eight draws versus the 'Caps in Vancouver. As a result, Sounders FC lead Whitecaps FC with an all-time record of 55 wins, 42 defeats, and 16 draws, though Whitecaps FC have a better overall home record of 26 wins, 24 defeats, and eight draws versus Seattle.

There are numerous player connections between these two rivals. ‘Caps striker Sebastien Le Toux established himself in the North American game when he joined the USL-1 Sounders in 2007. After two fine seasons with Seattle at the second division level, the Frenchman became Sounders FC’s first MLS signing on May 8, 2008. He played in Seattle’s inaugural MLS season, where he won the 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title, before moving to Philadelphia Union. Sounders FC centre back Jeff Parke spent part of the 2009 USL-1 season with Whitecaps FC, while long-time Seattle striker Roger Levesque appeared for USL-1 side Vancouver in a friendly versus LA Galaxy at BC Place on November 7, 2007.

As members of the Western Conference, Vancouver and Seattle will meet two more times in the 2012 regular season. Sounders FC will host Vancouver at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, August 18, before both clubs meet again at BC Place on Saturday, September 29.

CASCADIA CUP

Saturday’s match will be the opening contest in this year’s Cascadia Cup competition. This is the second season that Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland Timbers will contest the fan-based trophy as MLS clubs. Founded in 2004, the competition was conceived amongst the supporters of all three clubs, who were then members of USL-1. The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in MLS regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.

Sounders FC won the first all-MLS Cascadia Cup title in 2011 after registering a 2W-0L-2D record to finish top of the three-club standings. The Timbers were second with a 2W-1L-1D record, while Whitecaps FC finished third with 0W-3L-1D record. The ’Caps enter the 2012 season still in search of their first Cascadia Cup match victory as an MLS club.

Seattle join Whitecaps FC as the two most successful sides in the Cascadia Cup. Vancouver won the trophy in 2004, 2005, and 2008, while Sounders FC won the title as a USL-1 club in 2006 and 2007, and as an MLS outfit in 2011. Portland won the Cascadia Cup in 2009 and 2010 when the trophy was only contested between Whitecaps FC and the Timbers at the North American second division level.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON THE BIG SCREEN!

Ahead of Saturday’s Cascadia Cup clash, fans will have the opportunity to watch German giants Bayern Munich and England’s Chelsea FC battle for the crown of Europe's top club side in this year’s UEFA Champions League final on the big screen at BC Place! The match will be broadcast by Sportsnet and will start at 11:45 a.m. PT before our MLS match versus Seattle at 2 p.m. PT. Gates at BC Place will open at 11:15 a.m. PT, with your Whitecaps FC versus Sounders FC ticket required for entry. For more information, please visit our UEFA Champions League viewing page by CLICKING HERE.

CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP FINALE

Following their first Cascadia Cup match of the season, Whitecaps FC will look to secure their first-ever Voyageurs Cup title when they visit MLS rivals Toronto FC in the decisive second leg of the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship. Kickoff from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, is set for 5 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet ONE. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s second leg live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 3 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 are pleased to announce that three new match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.