Today marks the one-month countdown until Vancouver Whitecaps FC suit up for their big international friendly against English Premier League (EPL) giants Manchester City FC on July 18 at Empire Field. With four weeks to go until the match, here are four reasons to start getting excited:
1. Star power – Owned by Abu Dhabi billionaire Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan since September 2008, Manchester City FC are considered the wealthiest club in world soccer. That’s translated into a roster full of world-class talent. City currently feature stars such as 2011 FIFA World Cup winner David Silva of Spain, English internationals Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Joe Hart, and German defender Jérôme Boateng, just to name a few.
With the international transfer window opening at the beginning of July, City are expected to add additional stars to their roster who could be with the team in Vancouver.
2. English FA Cup winners – City have not only spent a great deal of money on acquiring players, they’ve also backed it up on the field recently. This past season, City showed that there is more than one team in Manchester. The Blues won their first trophy in 35 years, as they took home the English FA Cup title this year, beating cross-town rivals Manchester United FC in the semifinals before downing fellow EPL side Stoke City FC 1-0 in the final at Wembley Stadium on May 14.
In addition to their silverware, the Roberto Mancini-coached side also finished third in the EPL standings, qualifying them for the group stage of the lucrative UEFA Champions League for the first time next season.
3. Friendlier for some more than others – All members of Whitecaps FC are delighted to host a club the caliber of Manchester City. However, for two players on the team, the match will have a little extra meaning.
It’ll be a family affair for ‘Caps striker Atiba Harris when he looks across the field and sees cousin Micah Richards in a sky blue jersey. Richards, 22, is one of the top young defenders in England and has made 12 appearances for the England national team. It’ll be a special moment for the relatives, as they meet on the field for the first time.
For Vancouver native Terry Dunfield, the match will bring back many memories, as he faces the club where he began his professional ascension as a 15-year-old. A former Youth Player of the Year at City, Dunfield’s story is a perfect lesson for local aspiring soccer players, proving that it’s both possible to reach the heights of the EPL, and with Whitecaps FC around and thriving, it’s also possible to come home again.
4. Record of success – The match will be an exciting, entertaining affair for fans as they will have the chance to witness some outstanding soccer action. But make no mistake, Whitecaps FC are in it to win it. The ‘Caps have a stellar record in major international friendlies, defeating Sunderland AFC 3-0 at Swangard Stadium in their most recent encounter with an EPL side in 2005. Other notable victories include a 3-1 win against Manchester United in 1982 at Empire Stadium.
More specific to this coming summer’s friendly, the ‘Caps can boast wins in both of their previous meetings with Manchester City, beating the Blues 5-0 at Empire Stadium in 1980 and 2-0 back at the Pacific National Exhibition grounds in 1981.
So if you’re a season ticket or match pack holder, get ready for a thrilling day of soccer at Empire Field. If not, make sure you don’t miss out as Whitecaps FC add another chapter to their historic first season in Major League Soccer!
Individual match tickets for all remaining Whitecaps FC matches on Bell Pitch at Empire Field go on sale Saturday, June 25, at 10 a.m. PT. This includes the international friendly against 2011 English FA Cup winners Manchester City FC and the much-anticipated games versus LA Galaxy on Saturday, July 30, and Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday, September 24. Manchester City tickets are available for $60 (including HST), while individual MLS match tickets range from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca/whitecaps or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).