At last, we get to see what challenge lies ahead in our inaugural Major League Soccer season.
We now can see when David Beckham and Los Angeles Galaxy are coming to town (July 30) and when New York Red Bulls and Thierry Henry will be here to take on our Whitecaps FC (May 28).
We can also look forward to our trips to arch-rivals Seattle Sounders FC (June 11) and Portland Timbers (August 20). We can also pencil in both Toronto FC dates (March 19 & June 29) and look forward to doing the double over Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman, and the rest of Aron Winter's squad.
There is a very significant trip to Harrison, New Jersey, on September 10, which is around the same date when Whitecaps FC won the 1979 North American Soccer League's Soccer Bowl title in a certain Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. I am guessing there will be a few 'Caps fans making that trip, which surely will bring some fond memories flooding back.
Looking at our 2011 schedule, I believe it is set up very nicely for us. We have five of our first seven matches at Empire Field. I believe the crowds for these games will be full, will be loud, and will be instrumental in leading our team to a fast start in our first MLS season.
Keeping the players healthy over this 34-match MLS schedule will be very important. Having spoken to our training staff (Jake Joachim, Graeme Poole, and Steve Ramsbottom), they intend to study the schedule and find out how to best prepare the players for the upcoming season. Our nutritionist has already sent the players a pamphlet regarding travel, with tips on carrying water and snacks on flights, in order to hydrate and keep up metabolism. The players will also be using compression pants on flights to fight the low air pressure they experience, while they will also do pool sessions to recover from long flights.
Each member of the training staff also indicated that Whitecaps FC have some advantages of being based on the west coast, which I am not going to give away, but which they will use to give our players that little edge. So there you have it. The schedule is now out and the season is nearly upon us. We are getting really close to rocking this city.