By DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA
The idea is to entertain.
The result in an exhibition game is secondary.
When the Vancouver Whitecaps and Los Angeles Galaxy met in their first exhibition encounter last November, the two sides failed to score a goal.
It was one of the few disappointing aspects of the contest, which attracted over 48,000 fans to B.C. Place Stadium.
"We're dealing with a Canadian public where the entertainment value will be evaluated based on the number of goals that go in," said Whitecaps midfielder Jeff Clarke. "There is going to be a high emphasis on scoring.
"But we're not just going to let in a couple of goals just to make sure that people had a good time. We want to win as they do. They're coming in here to try and stuff us."
Tonight when the two teams meet again at Commonwealth Stadium, the emphasis will be on offence.
With both sides well into their regular seasons, and David Beckham back in international form, scoring chances should be plentiful. Beckham has scored three goals and set up four others in the first seven games of the Major League Soccer season. He scored a pair of highlight reel goals two weeks ago against Real Salt Lake helping his side salvage a draw.
"I think from our side we'll do what we usually do," said Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson. "We started the season with three home games and we've attacked our opponents with an offensive style and that's our way of doing things. We won't change that style for (tonight)."
The Whitecaps have won two of their first three games of the United Soccer Leagues season.
They beat the Rochester Rhinos 1-0 on Saturday on a goal from Eduardo Sebrango 76 minutes into the contest.
The USL is a step down from the MLS, which is the top soccer league in North America and currently features one Canadian team in Toronto FC.
"We're not going to come to just get a result," said Clarke. "We're going to try and play our style of soccer against theirs. We're not going to change anything. Our coach said that we were going to prepare the same way we did in our first three games of our league. In those games we wanted to go out, put on an attacking show, create chances and score goals. That's how we're going to deal with this one."
The Galaxy are one of the highest-scoring teams in the MLS. They, along with the Columbus Crew, have 14 goals through their first seven games. Striker Landon Donovan leads the way with eight goals. However, he picked up a slight injury in a 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls this weekend and is not expected to play tonight.
"It's sort of a David vs. Goliath approach that USL teams take into these contests," Clarke said. "You play against these big clubs and really the pressure is off, so you want to go out there and show them that you can compete at this level and you can beat them.
"We really respect that league and how far it's come. But I think our league has improved a lot as well. If you compare payrolls you're going to expect them to beat us easily, it won't even be a game. But at the end of the day it's a soccer game. On the day anybody can beat anybody, and they expect a game from us and we're going to try and give them that."
The Whitecaps hope eventually to be granted entry into the MLS, although that depends on whether they're able to secure a new stadium on the Vancouver waterfront.
Tonight's game against the Galaxy is a step towards that goal. Incidentally, it could be Beckham's only game in Canada this year. He's been called up to play with the English national team for a pair of exhibition games against the U.S and Trinidad and Tobago on May 28 and June 1 respectively.
MISSED IN T.O.
The Galaxy travel to play Toronto FC on May 31st. Last season Beckham was injured when the Galaxy were in Toronto and he did not dress.
Both of his Canadian appearances to date will have been against the Whitecaps.
"It was unique the first time we played them, because a lot of us are from Vancouver, there was a huge buzz in the city," said Clarke.
"There was a huge crowd and a lot of those people were friends and family, probably the most I've ever played in front of.
"It kind of provided a new sort of challenges and obviously the competition was something that doesn't come along every day in the USL. It was nice to play against them and given that Beckham was on the team and the whole rock star status that goes with that, it was nice."