Fresh off claiming their first away point in Major League Soccer, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-4L-4D) host Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes (1W-4L-2D) on Bell Pitch at Empire Field on Wednesday evening.
The Blue and White continue their busy month of MLS and Nutrilite Canadian Championship action this week, with Teitur Thordarson's side keen to earn their second league win of the season versus the Earthquakes.
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Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and San Jose Earthquakes at Empire Field kicks off at 7 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on individual match tickets for the club's inaugural MLS season.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus San Jose Earthquakes can also be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific, Rogers Sportsnet ONE, and Bell mobile devices at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the May 11 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9 p.m. PT.
Confidence was gained from last Saturday's trip to Chicago, as Whitecaps FC earned their first away result as an MLS club following a goalless draw with the Fire. The result snapped Vancouver's two-match losing streak in the league, though their desire to end a winless run of eight games will be the focus for Thordarson's squad this week. The 'Caps know it is important they take maximum points at home in MLS, with the league displaying its usual high level of parity following recent results.
The key to maintaining consistency for Whitecaps FC will be the availability of a full squad. Heading into the home match with San Jose and the weekend trip to New England Revolution, Thordarson will be boosted by the possible return of captain Jay DeMerit. The United States international is very close to recovering from a groin injury that has restricted him to just two starts this season. While DeMerit's return will be welcome, Thordarson is unlikely to rush the former Watford FC defender back into action, having been able to play a stable backline of Alain Rochat, Greg Janicki, Mouloud Akloul, and Jonathan Leathers in the last three games.
The 2011 season has so far been a turbulent one for the Earthquakes, with the Northern California outfit recording just one win to this stage. San Jose's last league encounter ended in disappointment, as they fell 1-0 at Philadelphia Union on April 30. Despite their recent struggles, San Jose arrive in Vancouver in good spirits after knocking off Western Conference rivals Portland Timbers 2-1 in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup qualifier in Oregon last week. The Earthquakes have also had a week to prepare for tonight's game, as they were not in action over the weekend.
The Earthquakes are a club that have some familiar faces to Whitecaps FC and Canadian soccer fans. Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and his assistant Mark Watson both hail from Vancouver and are former Canadian internationals. For a spell, Yallop was also head coach of the Canadian national team before to returning to the MLS coaching ranks with LA Galaxy in 2006. Watson, meanwhile, enjoyed two spells as a Whitecaps FC player in the early 1990's and 2005 before embarking on a coaching career that has seen him work with the Canadian national team program, United Soccer Leagues Professional Division side Charleston Battery, and MLS club New England Revolution.
Yallop's squad includes last year's top goalscorer Chris Wondolowski. The former Houston Dynamo forward had a stellar 2010 campaign after scoring 18 goals in 28 appearances for San Jose. The Earthquakes roster also includes experienced MLS goalkeeper Jon Busch, former Toronto FC midfielder Sam Cronin, and former Montreal Impact keeper Andrew Weber.
The Earthquakes will be without defender Tim Ward (hamstring) and midfielders Andre Luiz (knee) and Simon Dawkins (bilateral fasciotomy) for their visit to Vancouver. Midfielder Joey Gjertsen (groin) and striker Scott Sealy (hamstring) are listed as probable.
Though this is the first competitive meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Earthquakes, both clubs met in friendly action when Vancouver was a North American second division club. The 'Caps lost 3-1 to San Jose Clash in Abbotsford, BC, on June 14, 1998, before falling to the re-named Earthquakes 3-1 at Swangard Stadium on August 14, 2001. The Earthquakes then defeated the 'Caps 4-3 in a friendly at Swangard on September 1, 2003. More recently, Whitecaps FC fell 2-1 to San Jose in MLS Reserve League action on March 22. Later this season, both clubs will meet again at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday, July 20.
There is also plenty of history between Vancouver and San Jose dating back to the days of the original NASL. Between 1974 and 1984, Whitecaps FC registered 14 wins and 11 defeats in 25 meetings versus the Earthquakes, with the 'Caps recording eight victories and four losses at home during that time. Included in those 25 matches was Whitecaps FC's first competitive match as a club at the old Empire Stadium on May 5, 1974. A crowd of 17,343 saw Jim Easton's side lose that day, though 'Caps defender Neil Ellett wrote his name in the history books by scoring Vancouver's first goal in the NASL.
Whitecaps FC have two former Earthquakes players in their roster. A native of the Bay Area, goalkeeper Joe Cannon spent a large portion of his MLS career with San Jose before the 'Caps selected him in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft from the Earthquakes. Speedy winger Shea Salinas, meanwhile, started his MLS career in San Jose before moving to Philadelphia Union last season. As for the Earthquakes, Whitecaps FC fans will always remember Gjertsen's role in taking Vancouver to a United Soccer Leagues First Division title in 2006 after being named the league's Most Valuable Player that season.
THEN OFF TO NEW ENGLAND…
Following the midweek Western Conference clash versus San Jose, Whitecaps FC are on the road again this weekend, as they make their first visit to Foxborough, Massachusetts, for a return meeting with Eastern Conference club New England Revolution on Saturday evening. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the May 14 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6:30 p.m. PT.
Whitecaps FC fans now have the option of purchasing three exciting new match packs. Starting at just $159, the match pack options - GOING HOLLYWOOD, I (HEART) NY, LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR? - all include the Manchester City FC friendly match, valued at $60, and four coveted MLS matches. Aside from season tickets, which also include the Manchester City game, match packs are currently the only way to secure a ticket to the July 18 international friendly. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/matchpacks.