Playing their next to last home match of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-16L-10D) host Eastern Conference club D.C. United (9W-10L-11D) in Major League Soccer on Wednesday night.
After taking the Thanksgiving Day weekend off, Whitecaps FC will look to build on last week's victory over playoff-bound Real Salt Lake by hosting D.C. United for the first time on Canada's west coast. While the Blue and White look to finish their inaugural MLS campaign in strong fashion, the midweek clash is a crucial one for D.C. United, as they still hold aspirations of making this year's MLS Cup Playoffs.
Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and D.C. United on Bell Pitch at BC Place is set for 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). Visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets for more information on individual match tickets for the club's inaugural MLS season.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus D.C. United can be seen live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices at 7 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday'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.
Having given some of his younger players a chance to impress further in last Thursday's 3-0 home win over Real Salt Lake, 'Caps head coach Tom Soehn was pleased with the display of his side following a disappointing debut on Bell Pitch against Portland Timbers earlier this month. Soehn's line-up changes brought energy and hunger to the Blue and White, as the 'Caps got the bounces to go their way against Salt Lake. Camilo took his goal tally into double digits for the season with two penalties, while Nizar Khalfan's first goal in MLS earned him a nomination for the league's Goal of the Week award for Week 30.
Soehn will have some decisions to make with his attack for Wednesday after Camilo and Long Tan performed well against Salt Lake. Eric Hassli is available after the big Frenchman sat out the RSL match because of yellow card accumulation. Though he struggled to have the type of impact he would like in recent matches, Hassli's presence will surely keep United's backline on alert, should he start up front.
In the backline, the steady play of recent signing Carlyle Mitchell versus RSL will have him in strong consideration to face the dangerous D.C. attack. The Trinidad & Tobago international showed pace and athleticism alongside captain Jay DeMerit in the centre of the 'Caps backline, with the move allowing Alain Rochat to settle back into the left fullback position. It will also be interesting to see if Jordan Harvey earns another start on the left-hand side of midfield. The former Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union player looked comfortable in the more advanced role versus Salt Lake.
Whitecaps FC are without four members of their squad for Wednesday's match. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee), right fullback Jonathan Leathers (hamstring), midfielder Russell Teibert (toe laceration), and striker Atiba Harris (knee) will all miss the visit of United, while midfielder John Thorrington (groin) is listed as probable.
Sitting five points outside the final wild card spot for the MLS postseason, Wednesday sees D.C. United embark on a decisive ten-day stretch to end the regular season campaign. Claiming points in this final away match will be crucial to their hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Ben Olsen's side finish the regular season with three home games against fellow playoff contenders Chicago Fire (Saturday) and Portland Timbers (Wednesday, October 19) before hosting Eastern Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City in America's capital on Saturday, October 22. D.C. United are a well-rested squad, having last played on October 2 when they fell 2-1 at conference rivals Columbus Crew. They are looking to end a two-match winless streak in the league.
Olsen's squad includes some very talented players. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was with Jurgen Klinsmann's United States squad over the past few days, while American striker Charlie Davies and Honduran midfielder Andy Najar are quality attackers. There is also some Canadian flavour in the United squad. Centre back Dejan Jakovic is in his third season in D.C., while Vancouver native and former 86ers goalkeeper Pat Onstad is one of Olsen's assistants in the United coaching staff.
The other notable Canadian at United is Dwayne De Rosario. The versatile attacker's availability for Wednesday's match is uncertain at this stage after he played the full 90 minutes in Canada's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier versus Puerto Rico at Toronto's BMO Field on Tuesday night. Should he play on Bell Pitch on Wednesday, De Rosario will have the unique distinction of facing Whitecaps FC in Vancouver with three different MLS clubs this season. He faced the 'Caps as a member of Toronto FC on opening day at Empire Field (March 19) before returning to the Pacific National Exhibition grounds with New York Red Bulls on May 28.
United will have several players missing for the midweek trip to Vancouver. Defender Jed Zayner (knee) and midfielders Branko Boskovic (knee ligament tear) and Chris Pontius (leg fracture) all miss out, while Jakovic (hamstring) is listed as questionable and fellow defender Ethan White (knee ligament sprain) is listed as probable.
Whitecaps FC and D.C. United met for the first time in MLS back on August 13. In what became a forgettable experience for Soehn's side, D.C. United defeated the 'Caps 4-0 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Two goals by Pontius led United to just their third home win of 2011, with Najar and substitute Stephen King also getting on the scoresheet. De Rosario led by example as D.C. captain, as he recorded two assists in the four-goal victory.
Before this season, Whitecaps FC played Washington Diplomats in the old North American Soccer League from 1974 to 1981. Vancouver registered an overall record of four wins and four defeats versus the Diplomats. This included two wins at home over the Diplomats and an away record of two wins and four defeats in Washington, D.C.
A big connection between Whitecaps FC and D.C. United is Soehn's involvement with both clubs during his coaching career. Before joining the 'Caps, Soehn served as United assistant coach from 2004 to 2006 before taking the reins as D.C. head coach from 2007 to 2009. Two Whitecaps FC players also enjoyed spells with D.C. United before moving to Vancouver. Jay Nolly played the 2007 MLS season with United before joining the 'Caps ahead of their United Soccer Leagues First Division championship season of 2008. Centre back Greg Janicki, meanwhile, appeared for D.C. in 2008 and 2009 before coming to Vancouver for the 2010 United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League campaign.
LAST ROAD TRIP
Following Wednesday's home match versus D.C. United, Whitecaps FC make the final road trip of their inaugural MLS season, as they visit Western Conference side FC Dallas this Saturday evening. Kickoff from Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, is set for 5:30 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday's contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 3:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show.
MLS single match tickets are also available for the final match of 2011 versus Colorado Rapids on Saturday, October 22, at 4 p.m. PT. Tickets on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place range from $20 to $55 (including HST) and are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase tickets for the October 22 match at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).