Completing a three-match home stand, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-3L-4D) host Eastern Conference club New York Red Bulls (8W-4L-2D) in Major League Soccer on Wednesday evening.
In the midst of a busy week of league action, Martin Rennie’s side come into their final home match of June in buoyant mood after a thrilling weekend win over Western Conference rivals Colorado Rapids. They host a New York side looking to bounce back from an away defeat to Chicago Fire in this lone regular season encounter between both clubs. Wednesday’s match marks the 29th anniversary of the first sporting event to be held at BC Place. On June 20, 1983, a sold-out crowd of 60,342 took in the match, and they did not go home disappointed, as future England international Peter Beardsley scored for Whitecaps FC in a 2-1 victory over Seattle Sounders in the old North American Soccer League (NASL). American striker Mark Peterson replied for Seattle in a losing effort.
Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and New York Red Bulls at BC Place kicks off at 8 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). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus New York Red Bulls can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 8 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 6 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 10 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Of the many superlatives to describe last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Colorado, the word ‘inspirational’ is likely to be at the top of that list. The efforts of Rennie’s side in not only competing, but taking the game to the Rapids with ten men for the last half-hour, might have done more than just earn three points. The spirit and work ethic that was on display, followed by the collective delight of victory at the final whistle, has left everyone in a very good mood ahead of their encounter with the Red Bulls.
The MLS results and stats make good reading for the Blue and White to this stage. Two straight wins, a four-match unbeaten streak, a league-leading seven clean sheets, and a third-place position in the Western Conference standings reflects a marked improvement from the struggles of the club’s inaugural MLS season last year. Vancouver have also made BC Place a real fortress, as the ‘Caps have gone unbeaten in their last five MLS matches at home, and their last seven overall.
Their efforts have also afforded Vancouver the luxury of approaching each match for the opportunity it provides, and playing Eastern Conference clubs certainly offers that. This season, the ‘Caps have registered a 3W-2L-2D record against clubs from the east. Victories over Montreal Impact, Columbus Crew, and Houston Dynamo may prove to be valuable points in the club’s pursuit of an MLS Cup Playoff spot, as will draws with D.C. United and Philadelphia Union. Trips to Canadian arch-rivals Toronto FC and Chicago next month remain on Vancouver’s schedule of eastern opposition.
Youngster Darren Mattocks’ red card against Colorado on Saturday means the speedy Jamaican will be suspended for Wednesday’s match. He joins three teammates that are sidelined through injury in goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and striker Atiba Harris (both knee), as well as youngster Omar Salgado (foot). Midfielder Matt Watson (ankle) is listed as doubtful.
Completing a two-match road trip, the Red Bulls arrive on Canada’s west coast with an understrength squad, and their pride dented, after Sunday’s 3-1 defeat in Chicago ended New York’s six-match unbeaten streak. They are without their two high-profile Designated Players in Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez through injury, while midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy is unable to travel to Vancouver because American ‘Green Card’ issues. Midfielder Teemu Tainio and striker Jose Angulo (both knee) will also miss the midweek clash, as will Colombian defender Wilman Conde, who is being rested. The Red Bulls are also without their head coach Hans Backe, as the Swede is currently attending to personal matters. Assistant coaches Jan Halvor Halvorsen and Mike Petke will take charge on Wednesday night.
While the Red Bulls will miss Henry’s ability to produce and score goals in Vancouver (nine goals and five assists in 2012), New York can turn to one of the league’s top goalscorers in Kenny Cooper to provide some attacking punch. The big striker’s last visit to BC Place was a pleasant experience, as he scored the match winner in Portland Timbers’ 1-0 win over Whitecaps FC last October. The Red Bulls have also found an emerging goalkeeper in youngster Ryan Meara. Drafted in the second round (31st overall) of this year’s MLS SuperDraft, Meara’s performances this season will surely have him in strong consideration for the MLS Rookie of the Year award. A native of Crestwood, New York, Meara earned a call-up to the Republic of Ireland U-21 squad in late April.
Wednesday's match will be the third all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Red Bulls, with both clubs drawing their two MLS encounters last season. The inaugural meeting at Empire Field ended in a 1-1 draw on May 28, 2011. Vancouver took the lead with a first-half penalty from Eric Hassli before Luke Rodgers earned an away point for New York with an equalizer before halftime. Vancouver and New York repeated that 1-1 scoreline at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on September 10, 2011. Davide Chiumiento gave Whitecaps FC the lead with a fine first-half strike before Juan Agudelo levelled matters in the second half for New York. This midweek clash is also the 27th all-time meeting between Vancouver and a club from New York City, and the 56th all-time match between the 'Caps and a club from New York State.
Vancouver have a long history of playing teams from the city and state of New York since 1974. During the days of the old North American Soccer League, the 'Caps battled New York Cosmos and Rochester Lancers. This included the famous NASL National Conference championship series versus a star-studded Cosmos side in 1979. After winning the first match 2-0 in Vancouver, the return game saw the Cosmos win 3-2 at Giants Stadium to force a mini-game and an eventual shootout. Much to the disbelief of 44,109 Cosmos fans, Derek Possee scored the winning goal in the shootout to send Whitecaps FC to the NASL Soccer Bowl, where they defeated Tampa Bay Rowdies to become 1979 NASL champions.
More recently, Whitecaps FC faced New York Centaurs and New York Fever in the American Professional Soccer League seasons of 1995 and 1996. Between 1996 and 2010, the 'Caps also faced Rochester Rhinos at the North American second division level, with Vancouver defeating hosts Rochester to win the 2006 United Soccer Leagues First Division championship title.
Since 1974, Whitecaps FC have registered an overall record of 17W-7L-2D versus clubs from New York City and an overall record of 32W-18L-5D against teams from New York State. This includes an all-time home record of 11W-1L-1D against New York City clubs and a 20W-5L-3D home record versus New York State outfits.
There are several connections between both clubs. Whitecaps FC assistant coach Carl Robinson ended his playing career with the Red Bulls, while Vancouver’s Young-Pyo Lee and New York’s Tainio were teammates at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur FC. ‘Caps midfielder John Thorrington and Red Bulls centre back Conde were teammates in Chicago, while Vancouver’s Jordan Harvey and New York defender Stephen Keel played together in Colorado. As a member of FC Dallas, Harris was teammates with the New York trio of Cooper, Dax McCarthy, and Heath Pearce.
Prior to Wednesday’s match, Whitecaps FC will be having a send-off for the players and staff of the Canadian women’s national team ahead of their participation in the 2012 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in London, England.
NEXT UP: A DATE WITH LA
Following the midweek clash with New York, Whitecaps FC return to the road to wrap up the month with the first of three regular season meetings versus defending MLS Cup champions LA Galaxy. Kickoff from The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match 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. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.