There was a feeling of nostalgia for Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Thursday, as the team trained at Swangard Stadium for the first time this season. 14 players on the roster called the Burnaby, BC, stadium home when they played with the ‘Caps D-2 squad.
The 5,000-seat venue holds a special place in the heart of goalkeeper Jay Nolly, as he backstopped the club to the United Soccer Leagues First Division championship in 2008. That was also the first year in Vancouver for head coach Teitur Thordarson and goalkeeper coach Mike Salmon.
“It’s nice to be back at Swangard,” said Nolly. “A lot of fond memories here.”
The retrospect wasn’t only limited to the stadium for two Whitecaps FC players. Preparing to face FC Dallas at Empire Field this weekend, Atiba Harris and Blake Wagner get set to face their former team.
Wagner spent the first four years of his professional career in Dallas before moving to Vancouver last season. “I definitely had some good memories there and some good friends,” said Wagner. “Those are friends you never lose and it’ll be good to see them again and play against them.”
Harris, meanwhile, played a key role for FC Dallas last season, contributing four goals on the season and starting all but one of his 29 appearances while shifting around from winger to attacking midfielder to striker. “I enjoyed the season last year and my time in Dallas,” said Harris. “It was great soccer there, and unfortunately, we didn’t win the last game.”
That last game that Harris is referring to is the 2010 MLS Cup final in Toronto. After going on an MLS record 19-game unbeaten streak during the regular season, FC Dallas carried their strong play into the postseason. However, things were not to be as they were downed 2-1 in extra time against an equally in-form Colorado Rapids side.
In playing with the MLS Cup finalists last year, Harris teamed up with the league MVP, David Ferreira. “He’s fantastic, everything goes through him,” said Harris. “He just makes things happen. He’s one of a kind and if he gets space, he can cause us some trouble.”
FC Dallas has started the season off slowly so far, gaining only four points in their first five matches. Harris, though, endured a similarly slow start with them last year and feels that they’ll turn things around.
“I’m not really surprised,” said Harris. “I think the last couple of seasons it was the same thing, but they’re going to pick it up and get points. They’ve been playing good soccer and things will start going their way, but hopefully, it doesn’t start this weekend.”