By DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA
They're to the Los Angeles Galaxy what the Washington Generals are to the Harlem Globetrotters.
The other team.
But despite the fact they're not the main attraction tonight at Commonwealth Stadium (Shaw Ch. 10, 7 p.m.), the Whitecaps are not going to roll over for David Beckham and the Galaxy.
They didn't in their last encounter in Vancouver, a game that finished in a 0-0 tie.
"It was actually a competitive game and I thought we had the better chances," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "We missed a penalty shot. We'd like nothing better than to get a result against them.
"Ideally the game will be an entertaining one. We prefer it's not 0-0. We'd like to see some goals scored. If we score three and Beckham bends in two, then everybody goes home happy."
The Whitecaps are hoping attendance at tonight's game rivals the 48,000 that turned up at B.C. Place last October.
So far, over 30,000 tickets have been sold for the contest.
Unlike that game, however, the teams will be in mid-season form this time around as both clubs are well into their regular-season campaigns.
Beckham, the star attraction, is healthy, happy, playing well and under contract to be on the field for at least 45 minutes in Edmonton.
In his first seven regular-season games this season, Beckham has played all 90 minutes. It's possible he could play the entire game in Edmonton, largely in part because it has a natural grass surface.
The Galaxy go into tonight's game having lost to the New York Redbulls 2-1 on Saturday. "We know if another MLS teams comes in here, we don't get the same type of response from the public," said Whitecaps midfielder Jeff Clarke. "Beckham is who he is. It's an honour to play against him, we're really looking forward to it."
Eventually the goal for the Whitecaps is to play the Galaxy on a regular basis. As one of the most successful soccer franchises in the country, Vancouver looks destined to become an MLS franchise.
They're currently in the works trying to procure a stadium on the Vancouver waterfront, which would be required to join the top league in North America.
As of now, they play in the United Soccer League.
The Montreal Impact, who recently completed their soccer-specific stadium and will open it against the Whitecaps next week, are also expected to eventually join the MLS.
Along with Toronto, it would give the league three Canadian franchises.
"The MLS is going to cap the number of franchises that they are going to expand to," Lenar-duzzi said. "The number is 20 and there are 16 right now. So there are not a lot of opportunities to expand. That's a FIFA mandate, you can't go beyond 20 in your top league."
Regardless, tonight's game is a chance for the Whitecaps to show off their product to a new audience.
Currently, as the only Canadian MLS franchise, Toronto FC have a nation-wide fan base. If the Whitecaps get into the league, they want to become Western Canada's team.
"That's one of the reasons why we're playing in Edmonton," Lenarduzzi admitted. "But from our perspective, we just want to continue to grow the profile of the sport. And an event like this game against the Galaxy certainly allows us to do that and at the same time establish partnerships.
"We've committed to playing international matches and we'll continue to do that from now until 2011 which is when our vision hopefully will culminate."