Playing the first of six Major League Soccer matches in the month of June, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-5L-6D) make their first league trip to Southern California to face Western Conference rivals Chivas USA (3W-4L-4D) on Wednesday evening.
As the Blue and White enter the third full month of their inaugural MLS campaign, they do so under the stewardship of new head coach Tom Soehn after Whitecaps FC parted company with Teitur Thordarson on Monday. A difficult start to the 2011 season prompted the 'Caps to replace the ex-Iceland international striker with the former D.C. United head coach. Soehn and his staff now prepare for a Chivas USA side that are winless in their last two MLS matches.
Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and Chivas USA from The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 1 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a 90-minute post-game show, which will begin following the match at 10 p.m. PT.
This week could not have started in more difficult circumstances for Whitecaps FC, as the news of a coaching change was announced on Monday morning. Thordarson and goalkeeper coach Mike Salmon parted company with the club, with Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations Soehn taking the head coaching reins alongside assistants Denis Hamlett and Colin Miller. With Vancouver looking to get back in the MLS Cup playoff picture, Soehn's side face three difficult road games versus The Goats, Real Salt Lake, and Cascadia Cup rivals Seattle Sounders FC. Wednesday's game also begins a challenging month of June schedule for the Blue and White, as the 'Caps play five of their next six matches away from home.
Whitecaps FC head into their first-ever trip to The Home Depot Center without the services of three players, who are away on international duty. Midfielder Terry Dunfield is with the Canadian national team ahead of Wednesday's friendly versus Ecuador in Toronto, Ontario, and this month's CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament. Centre back Michael Boxall is with the New Zealand national team for their upcoming friendlies against Mexico and Australia, while winger Nizar Khalfan is on 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying duty with his native Tanzania.
Soehn is also without MLS veterans Atiba Harris (knee) and John Thorrington (calf) for Wednesday's match, while right fullback Jonathan Leathers (calf) is listed as doubtful. Striker Long Tan (foot) is listed as probable.
Owned by Mexican businessman and film producer Jorge Vergara Madrigal, Club Deportivo Chivas USA are an offshoot of Mexican giants Club Deportivo (Chivas) Guadalajara. They make Southern California their home, with the club sharing The Home Depot Center with Western Conference arch-rivals LA Galaxy. Now in their seventh MLS season, Robin Fraser's side are looking to get back among the elite in the league. Since their last encounter with the 'Caps on April 16, Chivas USA have registered three wins, two defeats, and one draw to sit seventh in the Western Conference standings. Wednesday's match is also an opportunity for The Goats to improve on their home record of 1W-3L-1D this season.
Like Whitecaps FC, Chivas USA are without three members of Fraser's starting XI because of international duty. Captain Alejandro Moreno is with the Venezuelan national team ahead of this July's Copa America tournament in Argentina, while centre back Andrew Boyens and midfielder Simon Elliott have joined Boxall in teaming up with the New Zealand national team. Argentine import Marcos Mondaini will also miss Wednesday's home game, as he serves the final match of a four-game suspension for his sending off at Real Salt Lake on May 7, while Jorge Flores is also suspended after being sent off for two bookable offences during last weekend's 3-3 draw at Columbus Crew.
Fraser also has several injury concerns in his squad. Defender Jimmy Conrad (concussion) and midfielder Blair Gavin (hamstring) are listed as doubtful, while defenders Michael Lahoud (concussion) and Seth Owusu (knee), midfielder Paulo Nagamura (calf), and striker Tristan Bowen (ankle) are all listed as probable.
Wednesday's match is the second meeting between Whitecaps FC and Chivas USA. On April 16, both clubs battled to a goalless draw at Empire Field. They also met in a preseason friendly in Casa Grande, Arizona, on February 18. The 'Caps suffered a late 1-0 defeat to the Southern California outfit after a last-minute strike by Jesús Padilla.
While there is not much history between the two clubs, there are many ties between both sets of players. Whitecaps FC striker Atiba Harris and defender/midfielder Kevin Harmse are former Chivas USA players, while youngster Omar Salgado was in the youth system at Mexico's Chivas Guadalajara and a United States U-20 international teammate of Chivas USA midfielder Bryan de la Fuente. Moreno was a Whitecaps FC selection in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft before he was traded to The Goats, while the 'Caps pair of goalkeeper Joe Cannon and Jonathan Leathers are former MLS teammates with Chivas USA captain Jimmy Conrad. Michael Nanchoff played with Chivas USA's Blair Gavin, Zarek Valentin, and Ben Zemanski at the University of Akron, while Harris and Heath Pearce were teammates at FC Dallas.
…THEN OFF TO UTAH
Following Wednesday's away match to Chivas USA, Whitecaps FC move on to Sandy, Utah, for a first-ever meeting with Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. PT and is live on CITY TV Vancouver (Shaw Cable - SD channel 13, HD channel 214; Bell TV - channel 253; Shaw Direct - channel 359; Telus TV - SD channel 13, HD channel 614) and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 4 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8 p.m. PT.
Whitecaps FC fans also have the option of purchasing two exciting new match packs. Starting at just $159, the match pack options - GOING HOLLYWOOD and LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR? - both 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.