As part of the 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge, Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps FC host English Premier League (EPL) giants Manchester City FC in an international friendly match on Monday evening.
After earning an unexpected Saturday off following the postponement of their MLS home match against Real Salt Lake, Tom Soehn's side will now have the opportunity to test themselves against one of world soccer's biggest clubs. Roberto Mancini's side are preparing for an important 2011-12 season, with City looking to make a serious run for the EPL title and significant progress in the UEFA Champions League. Monday's friendly will be played on natural grass that was installed on Bell Pitch at Empire Field this past week.
Monday's friendly between Whitecaps FC and Manchester City at Empire Field is set for 7 p.m. PT. Tickets are available for $60 (including HST) and are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).
Monday's international friendly between Whitecaps FC and Manchester City can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Monday's 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.
Coming into this weekend, Whitecaps FC were geared up for a challenging stretch of three games in five days, starting with Saturday's originally scheduled league clash with RSL. However, extreme levels of rainfall through early Saturday morning made the newly-laid temporary grass pitch at Empire Field unplayable, with Vancouver and Salt Lake now needing to reschedule their return MLS meeting later in the season. With club and stadium crews working tirelessly to ensure the pitch will be ready for Monday night, Soehn's squad unexpectedly come into this friendly match well rested and ready to take on some of the best talents in world soccer. With an important midweek trip to San Jose Earthquakes still to come, the Blue and White are sure to use most of their 25-player game roster against their English visitors, with each side allowed to make 11 substitutions in Monday's friendly.
The game against City will be this first chance for Whitecaps FC fans to see the two newest additions to Soehn's squad. Designated Player Mustapha Jarju is sure to make his 'Caps debut against 'The Citizens' after arriving in Vancouver last week. Left fullback Jordan Harvey should also get the chance to make home debut on Monday, with the former Philadelphia Union man ineligible to play in San Jose on Wednesday after picking up his fifth booking of the season in last weekend's 2-1 defeat at former club Colorado Rapids. The 'Caps should also be boosted by the probable return of playmaker Davide Chiumiento and striker Eric Hassli from injury.
Meanwhile, youngster Russell Teibert (hip flexor) and experienced MLS midfielder John Thorrington (calf) were listed as questionable coming into the weekend, while captain Jay DeMerit (adductor strain) is doubtful to face the EPL giants. Striker Atiba Harris remains on the sidelines, as he continues his recovery from surgery to his right knee.
With an abundance of resources and over a century of history as a professional club, Manchester City are looking to fulfil new-found expectations after becoming one of world soccer's wealthiest clubs when Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan took ownership of the Northwest English outfit in 2008. Their efforts last season brought silverware in the form of their first English FA Cup title since 1969, while City completed their best-ever season in the EPL by finishing third and claiming a spot in the highly-prestigious UEFA Champions League 'Group Stage' for 2011-12. Their North American tour has started well, with several days of training in California before Roberto Mancini's side saw their first bit preseason action on Saturday, as the EPL club defeated Mexican giants Club América 2-0 through first-half goals from Ryan McGivern and Shaun Wright-Phillips at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
City have since made their way north to Canada's west coast, with Mancini bringing several players that are sure to catch the eye of Whitecaps FC and local soccer fans at Empire Field on Monday. Goalkeeper Joe Hart is likely to be a regular for City and England over the next few years, while Mancini's backline includes talents like Belgian international Vincent Kompany and new signing Gaël Clichy from EPL rivals Arsenal FC. In midfield, Spanish World Cup winner David Silva and Ivory Coast star Yaya Touré bring plenty of top-level experience to Vancouver, as do Dutchman Nigel De Jong and England internationals Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson, and James Milner. In attack, Bosnian international Edin Dzeko will hope to show 'Caps fans some of the skills that could make him a key player for City during their upcoming domestic and European campaign.
Monday's friendly will be the third all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Manchester City, with all three matches taking place in the same venue on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds in East Vancouver. On May 24, 1980, the two clubs played each other in the Trans-Atlantic Challenge Tournament, along with fellow North American Soccer League (NASL) side New York Cosmos and Italian Serie A club AS Roma. In the second match of the tournament, Vancouver defeated Malcolm Allison’s City squad 5-0 at Empire Stadium, with Trevor Whymark scoring a hat-trick and current Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi also getting on the scoresheet. The following season, the two clubs met again at Empire Stadium, and once again, saw Whitecaps FC come away victorious with a 2-0 result on June 3, 1981.
In fact, Monday's friendly will be the fifth time that Manchester City play in the city of Vancouver. On May 31, 1958, City suffered a 5-2 friendly defeat to Scottish club Heart of Midlothian FC at Empire Stadium, while on June 1, 1968, City drew 0-0 with Scotland's Dunfermline Athletic FC at Empire Stadium.
Since 1976, Whitecaps FC have played English clubs 18 times in friendly action, having amassed six wins, five defeats, and seven draws during that time. This includes a record of five wins, three defeats, and five draws versus English top-flight sides. Vancouver's last encounter with English opposition came on July 16, 2005, when Whitecaps FC got goals from Carlo Corazzin, Joey Gjertsen, and Jason Jordan in a 3-0 friendly win over EPL club Sunderland AFC at Swangard Stadium.
2011 HERBALIFE WORLD FOOTBALL CHALLENGE
Monday's match-up is the fourth game in this year's Herbalife World Football Challenge, with 14 matches being played across North America over the next few weeks, and involving some of the biggest clubs in world soccer.
Action started on Wednesday night, with EPL champions Manchester United FC defeating hosts New England Revolution 4-1 at Gillette Stadium. United will also play MLS club Chicago Fire (July 23) and Spanish giants FC Barcelona (July 30) in their first meeting since last season's UEFA Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London, England. The Red Devils will also play Seattle Sounders FC (July 20) and the MLS All-Stars in the 2011 MLS All-Star Game (July 27) at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.
After beating Club América on Saturday and facing Whitecaps FC on Monday, Manchester City will also play MLS powerhouse LA Galaxy on Sunday, July 24. As one of five MLS clubs participating in the World Football Challenge, the Galaxy hosted Spanish giants Real Madrid on Saturday, where they fell 4-1. Jose Mourinho's side will also play games against Mexico's Club Deportivo (Chivas) Guadalajara (July 20) and MLS side Philadelphia Union (July 23). Italian giants Juventus are also participating with games against Portugal's Sporting Lisbon at Toronto's BMO Field (July 23), Club América (July 26), and Chivas Guadalajara (July 28). Spanish and European champions Barcelona will also play Mexico's big two following their clash with Manchester United. The Catalans face Chivas Guadalajara (August 3) and Club América (August 6) to complete the World Football Challenge schedule.
…BACK TO BUSINESS
Following Monday's friendly match, Whitecaps FC return to MLS action when they visit Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Wednesday night. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. PT and is live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the July 20 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 two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT.
MLS single match tickets are also available for all of our remaining matches at Empire Field this season, ranging 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).