Preview: Whitecaps FC set for first two matches of South Carolina trip

'Caps face Battery on Saturday, plus friendly match on Sunday

In their first matches of their preseason Carolina training trip, Whitecaps FC are set to take on Charleston Battery on Saturday evening as they open the 2013 Carolina Challenge Cup. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. PT at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina. Saturday's match will also be streamed live from whitecapsfc.com.

Sunday then sees the 'Caps face College of Charleston at Patriots Point Athletic Complex in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT. Follow @WhitecapsMatch on Twitter for live updates.

This is the first ever appearance in the Carolina Challenge Cup for Whitecaps FC. Entering its 10th year, the Carolina Challenge Cup annually attracts several MLS squads. Last year saw MLS Eastern Conference team DC United take home the tournament title.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

The ‘Caps look to start their Carolina trip off strong following a successful trek to Arizona, where Whitecaps FC secured three wins against MLS sides New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo, and local outfit Arizona Sahuaros.

Several trialists will hope to impress head coach Martin Rennie, while Whitecaps FC veterans will look to gain valuable on-field minutes to achieve optimal conditioning prior to the start of the MLS regular season. With two matches in two days, Rennie will have an opportunity to play many of the 35 players who’ve traveled with the team to South Carolina.

Overall, coach Rennie believes Charleston Battery will challenge his players.

“It’s going to be a tough match against Charleston,” commented Rennie. “They won the USL championship last year, and they’re a very well run and well coached organization. It will be one of the most physically demanding matches we’ve had so far, so we need to be ready for that.”

CHARLESTON BATTERY.

The Battery opened their 2013 preseason on February 8 with 12 returning players, including captain Colin Falvey and striker Nicki Paterson. The 2012 USL PRO champions will look to have another successful season in 2013 and will hope to improve upon their 3rd place finish in the regular season league standings last year.

Their preseason roster also includes several players hoping to vie for a permanent roster spot. Competition will be fierce and trialists will look to put their best foot forward in hopes of securing a spot.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

The 'Caps will face a familiar foe when they play the tournament hosts, as the Blue and White battled the Battery 13 times during their time in the North American second division between 2001 and 2009.

In league play, the ‘Caps held a 4W-4L-5D record against Charleston during their time in the USL.

The last match between the two clubs occured on August 20, 2009, when Vancouver and Charleston played to a 1-1 draw at Blackbaud Stadium

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON

College of Charleston Cougars enter 2013 with high hopes following a 2012 Southern Conference semi-final 2-1 defeat to Appalachian State. Last year the Cougars had five players, including skilled midfielder Sean daSilva, named to the All-SoCon first and second teams. Also of note, among the Cougars men's soccer alumni is former Whitecaps FC defender/midfielder Wes Knight.

With regards to Sunday's match, coach Rennie thinks the Cougars’ young squad will be looking to prove a lot against the ‘Caps.

“They’re a fantastic host and are taking really good care of us, but we know it will be a big match for us,” said Rennie. “There are a lot of college players that aspire to play in MLS and when they play against MLS squads they want to be their best and perform well, but we have a strong squad so there’s a lot of players in our group that have something to prove as well.”

NEXT UP

Following the friendly against College of Charleston, the team will remain in Charleston, South Carolina to play their last two Carolina Challenge Cup matches against Houston Dynamo (February 20) and Chicago Fire (February 23). The preseason schedule will then wrap-up with a trip to Cary, North Carolina, for a match against North American Soccer League (NASL) side Carolina RailHawks (February 24).