Whitecaps FC host San Jose Earthquakes for a second time on Sunday

Sunday sees third MLS meeting between 'Caps and San Jose

Wrapping up a busy week of home matches, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-6L-7D) host top Major League Soccer club San Jose Earthquakes (13W-4L-4D) for a second time this season on Sunday afternoon.

It has been a busy month for the Blue and White, with Sunday being the sixth game in July for Martin Rennie’s side. They are looking to claim an important home win over the Earthquakes this weekend after a disappointing midweek draw with defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy on Bell Pitch at BC Place.

Sunday's match between Whitecaps FC and San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place kicks off at 4 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 San Jose Earthquakes can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet ONE, and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT, with a pre-game show beginning at 3:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen Sunday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Sunday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

Nearing the end of a tough summer spell of league matches, Whitecaps FC are keen to put in another spirited display against San Jose and show that their win over the Earthquakes on May 5 was not an anomaly. The potential of Rennie’s squad to be among the top clubs in MLS has been seen on several occasions this season, including Wednesday night. Though the Galaxy came back to earn a 2-2 draw, Vancouver played with the type of purpose and intent that has made BC Place such a difficult venue for visiting clubs in 2012.

It was a match and atmosphere that surely inspired new Designated Player signing Kenny Miller to make his home debut sooner rather than later. Having been here less than a week, there is a chance that the Scottish international may make his MLS bow versus San Jose on Sunday. Rennie may also call upon the versatile Alain Rochat after he missed the LA draw through suspension for caution accumulation.

As for the near future, there could be a further boost in the ‘Caps striking department, as Atiba Harris returned to full training this past week after undergoing a successful operation to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on May 25. Harris’ return will be important after Whitecaps FC traded striker Eric Hassli to Canadian arch-rivals Toronto FC for a first-round selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, as well as an international spot through the 2013 season, on Friday.

Whitecaps FC will be without youngster Omar Salgado is out for most of the summer after suffering a right foot fracture, while on international duty with the United States U-20 squad in Uruguay last month. Midfielder John Thorrington is doubtful after suffering a quad strain against the Galaxy on June 23.

EARTHQUAKES

At this stage of the season, the efforts of San Jose have already washed away many preseason predictions. As strong favourites to claim the Supporters’ Shield as the top MLS club in the regular season, credit for San Jose’s fine season must go to a pair of Vancouver natives in Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and his assistant - former Whitecaps FC defender Mark Watson. They have overseen a major turnaround that has taken the Bay Area club past the 40-point mark.

A big reason for San Jose’s successful campaign has been the prolific goalscoring form of Wondolowski. The United States international looks on course to win his second MLS Golden Boot award in three seasons, with the marksman leading the MLS scoring charts with 17 goals. Named the MLS Player of the Month for June, Wondolowski has given Whitecaps FC many headaches, scoring six goals in four league contests versus Vancouver. Strike partner Alan Gordon, meanwhile, has scored seven goals in San Jose’s last 11 games.

Wondolowski is one of four Earthquakes players that will be at next Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game. Steven Beitashour, Justin Morrow, and captain Ramiro Corrales all earned All-Star nods after helping San Jose establish a reliable defensive backline in front of goalkeeper Jon Busch. Tied for second in MLS with eight assists, Marvin Chávez could be considered one of the best acquisitions of the past off-season after Yallop landed the Honduran international from FC Dallas.

The Earthquakes will be without former Whitecaps FC striker Joey Gjertsen (knee), defender Tim Ward (soft tissue injury), midfielder Sam Garza (rib), and striker Steven Lenhart (concussion). Peruvian-born Cesar Diaz Pizarro (ankle) is listed as questionable.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Sundayʼs match is the fifth competitive meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Earthquakes, with Vancouver registering a 1W-1L-2D record versus San Jose since 2011. Their first MLS encounter was at a rainy Empire Field on May 11, 2011, as both clubs drew 1-1. Wondolowski gave San Jose the lead in the first half before Vancouver earned a point in stoppage time with a first MLS goal from former ‘Caps playmaker Davide Chiumiento. Whitecaps FC also drew last seasonʼs away clash with San Jose on July 20, 2011. Two goals by Hassli cancelled out Wondolowski's two goals for the Earthquakes in a 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium.

Before 2011, both clubs met in friendly action when Vancouver was a North American second division club. The 'Caps lost 3-1 to San Jose Clash in Abbotsford, BC, on June 14, 1998, before falling 3-1 to the re-named Earthquakes at Swangard Stadium on August 14, 2001. The Earthquakes then defeated the 'Caps 4-3 in a friendly at Swangard on September 1, 2003.

There is also plenty of history between Vancouver and San Jose dating back to the days of the original North American Soccer League (NASL). Between 1974 and 1984, Whitecaps FC registered 14 wins and 11 defeats in 25 meetings versus the Earthquakes, with the 'Caps recording eight victories and four losses at home during that time.

There are several player connections between Vancouver and San Jose. A native of the Bay Area, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon spent a large portion of his MLS career with San Jose before the 'Caps selected him in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft from the Earthquakes. Last season, San Jose winger Shea Salinas made 26 appearances for Whitecaps FC before returning to the Earthquakes in exchange for allocation money on November 29, 2011. Other connections include San Jose winger Chávez and ‘Caps striker Harris, who were teammates at FC Dallas.

THEN OFF TO UTAH

Following Sunday’s home clash with San Jose, Whitecaps FC face another top Western Conference club in Real Salt Lake for the first time this season on Friday evening, July 27. Kickoff from Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, is set for 6 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Citytv Vancouver (Bell TV - channel 253; Shaw Cable - SD channel 13, HD channel 214; Shaw Direct - channel 359 (Classic) and 6 (Advanced); Telus Optik TV - SD channel 13, HD channel 614; Novus Entertainment – SD channel 13, HD channel 173; Delta Cable - SD channel 13, HD channel 604; Coast Cable – channel 13) and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the July 27 match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the July 27 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Customize your Whitecaps FC experience with our 2012 Flex Pack! Starting at $199, Flex Packs include six match tickets in the Aqua, Yellow, or Purple sections at BC Place, and can be used for any MLS regular season home match this season. Offering savings over single match ticket purchases, Flex Packs offer supporters the ability to use any ticket quantity combination. For example, bring six friends to one match or attend three matches with a friend - it’s up to you how you use your Flex Pack! To purchase your Flex Pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on our new Whitecaps FC Flex Pack, visit whitecapsfc.com/flex-packs.