BY IAN WALKER, VANCOUVER SUN
There’s no better way to get to know someone than to head out on a road trip.
Or an African safari, even.
The Vancouver Whitecaps are expected to announce in the coming days that the team will embark on a three-game pre-season tour of Tanzania. While details of the trip are still being finalized, it’s expected the defending USL First Division champions will leave the first weekend in March and return 10-14 days later.
The purpose of the trip is to promote team building as well as player development.
“It’s a great thing for the group to get together and to get to know each other very well,” said Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson, following Thursday’s training session at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. “That’s always good to have when you are on the road for long periods of time in the season and people have been basically using the season to get to know each other.”
The trip would aid in the speeding up of that process. It would also mark the first time the Whitecaps have toured since the days of the North American Soccer League, more than 20 years ago now. But travelling abroad for training purposes is becoming more and more the norm. The Montreal Impact travelled to Italy and Portugal for six games before the 2008 USL-1 season and the Seattle Sounders visited Tanzania for three friendly matches in November of 2005, after winning the USL-1 title earlier that year.
The Whitecaps hope to play one game against a team made up of a mix of national players with a pair of Tanzanian club teams rounding out the rest of their schedule. At least one of the games may be played at Dar es Salaam’s Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, which holds more than 60,000 fans.
In previous seasons, Vancouver would play host to touring teams, most recently the Los Angeles Galaxy in Edmonton on May 13 and at BC Place in November of 2007.
The Whitecaps won the inaugural Nations Cup, held in the summer of 2006 at Swangard Stadium, which included runner-up Cardiff City of the English Championship League, along with India’s national team and the Chinese under-20 national team.
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