Tonight vs. Minnesota Thunder
7 p.m. at Swangard Stadium
Pretty much any team the Vancouver Whitecaps face through the first few month of the United Soccer Leagues First Division season will be new to Teitur Thordarson. It goes with the territory of being a new coach in a new league -- heck, in a new land, for that matter.
But with 18 new faces on this year's roster, the Minnesota Thunder may be the closest thing to an unknown commodity as the Whitecaps head coach may see all year.
"I've watched the videos from last year of Minnesota, but from what I understand, they have made a lot of changes to the team since then," said Thordarson, in advance of the tonight's USL-1 regular season game between the Whitecaps and Thunder at Swangard Stadium. "I don't think we should have any other ideas about Saturday, as it will be just as physical a game as the one against Montreal. If we can attack the game with that in mind, then I think we will be able to show the same kind of things as we did against Montreal."
Thordarson's USL-1 coaching debut was a success, with an important 1-0 home win over Canadian rival Montreal on April 12. Vancouver hasn't played a competitive game since, instead using the last two weeks to work on the team's new aggressive, attacking style.
The Whitecaps also added a pair of players since their season-opening victory, including returning player Tony Donatelli from the Major Indoor Soccer League and former D.C. United winger Justin Moose of Major League Soccer. Neither player is expected to make the Caps' starting 11 for tonight's game, but both will be looking to make the most of their time off the bench if called upon.
Donatelli arrived from the Philadelphia Kixx early last week and said it didn't take him long to notice the changes from last season. Not only has Thordarson got the team playing a more attacking and aggressive style, but he wants his players to concentrate more on what they are going to do rather than on what the opponents are thinking.
"We're really concentrating on what we're trying to do best, which is our defensive pressuring and the way we're going to attack teams and get the ball forward," said Donatelli. "We're not spending a lot of time on who we're playing; that said we know Minnesota is a dangerous team. They have a lot of new players and are capable of anything."
The Thunder dropped their season opener 2-1 to the Portland Timber on Thursday, and have missed out on the post-season the past three years. An 11th-place finish last season brought huge turnover, including former Whitecap striker Alen Marcina.
The Whitecaps lead the overall series between the two clubs with a record of 17-8-5, including a 3-1 record last season. Vancouver's dominance over Minnesota is particularly notable at Swangard, where the Whitecaps are 13-1-2.
GOAL DUST: The Whitecaps were 3-1 against the Thunder last season. ... Centre back Omar Jarun and right fullback Geordie Lyall will be available after the pair missed the Montreal victory with preseason injuries. ... Newcomer Vicente Arze is fit after overcoming an ankle problem he picked against the Impact. ... Lyle Martin is questionable for Saturday with a foot problem. ... Stefan Leslie (shoulder) and Luca Bellisomo (neck) will not be available for tonight's match due to inury.
© The Vancouver Sun 2008