Whitecaps FC Reserves face USL PRO side Richmond Kickers in first of two encounters
VANCOUVER, BC – Following a two-week break, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Reserves (MLS Reserve League: 2W-0L-2D) travel East to face Richmond Kickers (USL PRO: 7W-0L-4D) in their first MLS Reserve League-USL PRO interleague match. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT at Richmond City Stadium in Richmond, Virginia. The match will be streamed live online with a link available at whitecapsfc.com. There will also be live updates on Twitter at @WhitecapsMatch.
As part of a groundbreaking partnership between Major League Soccer (MLS) and the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division (USL PRO), each of the 13 USL PRO teams will compete in two interleague games against MLS Reserve teams, with matches counting in both the USL PRO and MLS Reserve League standings.
Both Whitecaps FC Reserves and Richmond Kickers will be looking to maintain their undefeated start to their respective 2013 league campaigns as they face each other in the first of two meetings this season. The return match will be played on July 23 at Thunderbird Stadium.
Last reserves match: Whitecaps FC 3-3 Chivas USA
In their previous outing, the ‘Caps hosted Chivas USA in an exciting match that finished in a 3-3 draw. Striker Tommy Heinemann scored two goals, while Kekuta Manneh scored the third goal for the ‘Caps to build a 3-0 halftime lead. However, Chivas USA came back with three unanswered goals from Josue Soto, and two goals from Jose Manuel Rivera in the second half to end the match level.
Tommy Heinemann has been a force for Whitecaps FC Reserves with eight goals in reserve matches so far. Rookie Kekuta Manneh leads the 'Caps Reserves with four assists.
The 'Caps will be led on Saturday by assistant coach Carl Robinson.
Last match: Richmond Kickers 4-0 Antigua Barracuda FC
The Kickers are currently tied for third place in USL PRO with an undefeated record of 7W-0L-4D, giving them 25 points. However, the Kickers are only three points behind second place Harrisburg City Islanders with two matches in hand.
Leading the way for the Kickers is former MLS striker Joseph Ngwenya, who is sixth in league scoring with six goals in nine matches. Setting up Ngwenya and others for those goals has been Nate Robinson, who has registered six assists in 10 matches.
As good as Richmond have been on the attack, they've been even better on defence. In 11 matches, the Virginia side have only conceded eight goals, the least among all USL PRO teams.
Former league foes at the North American second division level, the ‘Caps hold an all-time record of 2W-0L-3D against the Kickers, including a playoff series loss on penalty kicks back in September of 2005 when the Blue and White played in the USL First Division.
There are also a couple player connections between the two clubs. Most notably on Richmond's roster is midfielder Philippe Davies, a product of the 'Caps Residency program who spent three years with Vancouver's first team, from 2008 through to the club's debut MLS season in 2011. Also of note, Whitecaps FC midfielder Matt Watson played two seasons with the Kickers, including capturing the USL Second Division regular season and playoff title in 2006. Goalkeeper Brad Knighton, meanwhile, returns to his hometown of Richmond, Virginia.
After this weekend’s clash, the ‘Caps Reserves next host Seattle Sounders FC Reserves on Sunday, July 7 at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. PT and admission is free to the public.