Looking to return to winning ways, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-7L-8D) begin a big week of Canadian derby action in Southern Ontario with a return Major League Soccer meeting versus arch-rivals Toronto FC (2W-7L-9D) on Wednesday evening.
Tom Soehn's side begin the second half of their inaugural MLS season versus the side they defeated emphatically in their league debut at Empire Field on March 19. Both clubs have had similar seasons to date, with the 'Caps and TFC struggling to find form through the first half of their 2011 regular season campaign. The Blue and White are still seeking their first away win as an MLS club, while The Reds are keen to end an winless run of nine league matches.
Following Wednesday's league clash, Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC will replay the second leg of this year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship (NCC) final at BMO Field on Saturday morning. The second leg was rescheduled after the original contest at BMO Field on May 26 was abandoned due to unplayable field conditions.
Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, kicks off at 4:30 p.m. PT and is live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 29 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.
Heading into one of the important weeks of the season, Whitecaps FC are looking to redeem themselves following a disappointing performance at Sporting Kansas City over the weekend. While Saturday's 2-1 defeat was a setback after the home win over Philadelphia Union, Whitecaps FC have formed a good habit of scoring the first goal in each of their last three league games. Of particular note for Wednesday, 'Caps striker Eric Hassli has had the habit of scoring the first goal in both of Vancouver's meetings with TFC this season, as well as the abandoned NCC final, second leg, match back in late May.
After taking an 18-player squad to the American Midwest for the Kansas City match, Soehn has flown four more members of the Whitecaps FC squad to Toronto as reinforcements for the big week ahead. Wes Knight, Michael Nanchoff, Pete Vagenas, and Blake Wagner have all made the trip east to provide further options for the Blue and White. Knight, Nanchoff, and Wagner all appeared for the Whitecaps FC Residency squad in United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League action this past weekend.
The quartet's arrival in Toronto boosts a Whitecaps FC squad that are without midfielders Davide Chiumiento (hamstring) and John Thorrington (calf), as well as striker Atiba Harris (knee) for Wednesday's match. Captain Jay DeMerit (groin) and fellow defenders Mouloud Akloul (hamstring) and Alain Rochat (quad) are listed as questionable for the midweek clash.
Sitting bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference standings, the struggles that have plagued Toronto FC since entering the league back in 2007 show no signs of abating. A 3-1 defeat at Real Salt Lake on Saturday extended their MLS winless run to nine games and their overall winless streak to 10 matches. This makes this week's home games with Vancouver all the more important, with The Reds trying to move things in the right direction.
TFC head coach Aron Winter and his staff have been on a sharp learning curve in MLS, with the Dutch international already admitting he will look to the summer transfer window in a bid to strengthen his squad. His biggest challenge at present is the number of absences he has had through injury. Former 'Caps centre back Adrian Cann is out for the season with a knee injury, while experienced MLS striker Alan Gordon has been sidelined recently with an abdominal strain. They join defender Dicoy Williams (knee) and midfielders Elbekay Bouchiba (knee) and Jacob Peterson (hamstring) in missing Wednesday's match. Nana Attakora (quad), Julian de Guzman (calf), Tony Tchani (ankle) and Maicon Santos (hamstring) are listed as questionable.
Wednesday's MLS clash will be the ninth all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC. Before their league clash on March 19, the first six meetings came in the last three editions of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship when Vancouver was a North American second division club. Since 2008, Whitecaps FC have amassed a favourable record of three wins, one defeat, and four draws versus TFC. This includes a record of one win, one defeat, and one draw versus The Reds in Toronto. Following Wednesday's game, the 'Caps face TFC in the NCC final, second leg, on Saturday.
BLUE & WHITE IN TORONTO
Vancouver's goalless draw at TFC in the NCC last season took the club's all-time record of results in Toronto to 11 wins, 17 defeats, and four draws. Between 1974 and 2010, the 'Caps have played no less than seven different Toronto-based clubs.
In the days of the North American Soccer League, Whitecaps FC had three wins and six defeats in away matches versus Toronto Metros, Toronto Metros-Croatia, and Toronto Blizzard between 1974 and 1984. In the Canadian Soccer League years of 1987 to 1992, Vancouver had one win, four defeats, and three draws versus the CSL's Blizzard in Toronto, while in the American Professional Soccer League, the club won and lost twice on the road to the Blizzard in 1993 and Toronto Rockets in 1994.
Vancouver's more recent exploits with Southern Ontario opposition came in the form of ex-United Soccer Leagues First Division club Toronto Lynx between 1998 and 2006. Though Whitecaps FC hold the all-time set of results, they recorded four wins and four defeats versus the Lynx in Toronto during that time.
VOYAGEURS CUP REPLAY
Both Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC will renew their rivalry again on Saturday morning, as both clubs replay the second leg of the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship final, with both sides level at 1-1 on aggregate following the first leg at Empire Field on May 18. Kickoff from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, is at 9:30 a.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet ONE and sportsnet.ca. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday's match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 7:30 a.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show.
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. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/matchpacks.