Looking to build on a pair of away results from last week, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-4L-6D) continue their extended Major League Soccer road spell with a trip to Canadian arch-rivals Toronto FC (2W-11L-4D) on Wednesday evening.
Martin Rennie’s side return to Southern Ontario for their lone MLS regular season meeting with The Reds and with fresh memories of a disappointing Amway Canadian Championship final series versus TFC back in May. After Eric Hassli spectacularly earned the ‘Caps a 1-1 first-leg draw on Bell Pitch at BC Place on May 16, The Reds secured a fourth-straight Voyageurs Cup title and a return to the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) after a late strike by Reggie Lambe secured TFC a 1-0 second-leg win at BMO Field on May 23 for a 2-1 aggregate success.
Whitecaps FC versus Toronto FC from BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, kicks off at 4 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Though not a match to be remembered for entertainment value, Saturday’s goalless draw at Western Conference rivals Chivas USA was positive result on the road, with Rennie’s side pleased to have taken four points from a possible six at two conference foes. With a 3W-3L-3D away record to this stage, the Blue and White have shown more confidence in their ability to play away from the friendly confines of BC Place. It is another encouraging statistic that goes along with Vancouver’s league-leading nine clean sheets, being one of seven MLS clubs to have already reached the 30-point mark, and a sixth-place position in this week’s MLS Power Rankings.
This week’s challenge will wrap up Whitecaps FC’s five-match run on the road, with Vancouver also visiting Chicago Fire on Saturday. Rennie will need to make one change in his line-up for Wednesday’s match, with Hassli missing the league clash with TFC because of caution accumulation. The good news is Jamaican youngster Darren Mattocks will be available to face The Reds after sitting out the Chivas USA game because of caution accumulation. With so many matches in a short space of time, it will be interesting to see if midfielder Jun Marques Davidson will come into Rennie’s thinking this week after not appearing at Colorado (suspension) or Chivas USA (substitutes bench).
Whitecaps FC are without four players for Wednesday’s match. Striker Atiba Harris is on the sidelines until mid-summer after undergoing a successful operation to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on May 25. Fellow striker Omar Salgado will be out of action for most of the summer after suffering a right foot fracture, while on international duty with the United States U-20 squad in Uruguay last month. Midfielder John Thorrington suffered a quad strain against LA Galaxy on June 23. Matt Watson is listed as questionable with a sprain in his right ankle.
After a terribly disappointing start to their sixth season as an MLS club, TFC made the club’s director of soccer operations Paul Mariner their seventh head coach on June 7, replacing Dutchman Aron Winter. With an uphill battle to get into the MLS Cup Playoff race in the Eastern Conference, the former England international striker changed TFC’s playing formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2, with improvement seen in their results during this very busy spell of 10 league matches in just over a month. Though Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Philadelphia Union took TFC’s record under Mariner to 1W-2L-4D since June 16, a five-match unbeaten streak during that spell has brought some optimism to BMO Field.
The Reds can also take confidence in having played well against Vancouver in recent matches. Their defeat of Whitecaps FC in May meant another chance for TFC to make a run in the CCL after reaching the semifinals of the 2011-12 edition of the competition. TFC will hope that the recent goalscoring form of Danny Koevermans can make an impact in upcoming CCL action and the second half of Toronto’s MLS campaign. With eight goals in his last nine league appearances, the Dutch striker will be a player to look out for on Wednesday night.
TFC will be without striker Joao Plata, who looks set for a return to his native Ecuador and a loan move with former club Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito. The Reds are also without goalkeeper Stefan Frei (leg), while several players are listed as questionable. They include defenders Adrian Cann (knee) and Ty Harden (adductor strain), as well as striker Nicholas Lindsay (knee).
Wednesday’s match will be the 13th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC. Before their two clashes in MLS last season, the first six meetings came in the first three editions of the Canadian Championship when Vancouver was a North American second division club. Since 2008, Whitecaps FC have amassed a 3W-4L-5D record versus TFC. This includes a record of 1W-4L-1D versus The Reds in Toronto.
There are several player connections between Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC. ‘Caps midfielder Russell Teibert was a member of TFC Academy before joining Whitecaps FC Residency in 2008. Rennie’s assistant Carl Robinson spent three seasons as a player with TFC, where he was twice named the club’s Most Valuable Player. The Reds roster includes centre back Cann, who won a United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) title with Whitecaps FC in 2006, while Vancouver native Terry Dunfield spent parts of 2010 and 2011 with the Blue and White.
BLUE & WHITE IN TORONTO
Wednesday’s match is also the 36th time that Whitecaps FC have played in Toronto in the club’s history, with Vancouver registering an all-time record of 11W-20L-4D in Canada’s largest city. Between 1974 and 2012, the 'Caps have played no less than seven different Toronto-based clubs.
In the days of the old 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-USL-1 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.
LAST STOP: CHICAGO
Following the midweek trip to Toronto FC, Whitecaps FC will head to The Windy City for their lone regular season meeting versus Eastern Conference club Chicago Fire on Saturday night. Kickoff from Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, is set for 5:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1040 radio (change from TEAM 1410) and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 3:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1040 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 7:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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