VANCOUVER, BC – On May 5, 1974, Vancouver Whitecaps took to the pitch at Empire Stadium and played their first-ever game. Their opponent: San Jose Earthquakes.
Almost 40 years to the day, the two teams will meet again this Saturday at BC Place as Whitecaps FC (2W-2L-4D) host the Earthquakes (1W-2L-3D) in the club’s 40th anniversary match.
The ‘Caps will be hoping for a different fate this time around, however, as they fell 2-1 in a shootout during the inaugural match back in 1974.
Prior to the match, Bob Lenarduzzi will be inducted into the newly launched Ring of Honour and the inaugural 1974 ‘Caps team will be honoured in a special ceremony.
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 4 p.m. PT at BC Place. Make sure to get to your seats by 3:45 p.m. for the pre-match ceremonies. Fans are also encouraged to #BuckUp for Mental Health and donate at least one dollar at the match, in support of Clara’s Big Ride Vancouver Community Champion – the Kettle Society – and the Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division.
You can watch the match live on TSN2, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TEAM 1410 and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. Following the match, TEAM 1410 will have a two-hour post-game show.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Highlights: Real Salt Lake 2-2 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
The ‘Caps are coming off arguably their toughest stretch of the season, in which they played a home-and-home series with LA Galaxy before visiting Real Salt Lake last weekend in Utah.
One of the main themes of Vancouver’s last two games has been their late second-half comebacks. On April 19 against the Galaxy, Whitecaps FC battled back from two separate one-goal deficits to claim a 2-2 draw. Darren Mattocks and Kekuta Manneh provided the scoring for Vancouver on that day.
And this past weekend against RSL, the ‘Caps overcame an early 2-0 deficit with late goals from Uruguayans Nicolas Mezquida and Sebastian Fernandez, whose last-second strike is up for MLS Goal of the Week.
Mezquida became Vancouver’s seventh different goalscorer this season, which is tied for the league-high with FC Dallas eight weeks into the 2014 MLS season. The ‘Caps are also second to only Seattle Sounders FC with 10 goals scored in the second half – five of which have come after the 80th minute.
Also of note, Whitecaps FC right back Steven Beitashour has recorded an assist in each of his last two games – no MLS defender has more assists this season. Saturday’s match will be the first time Beitashour plays against the Earthquakes, his hometown club and first professional team.
On the injury front, midfielder Pedro Morales (back) missed last week’s match but has trained in full this week and is expected to be available for selection. One player who won't be available for selection is goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, who was suspended for entering the field of play last weekend against RSL.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Highlights: San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Chivas USA
After going winless in their first five matches, claiming just three points during that time, the Earthquakes defeated Chivas USA 1-0 last weekend to pick up their first victory of 2014. It was a much-needed result for San Jose, who were off to their worst start in franchise history.
Portuguese midfielder Yannick Djalo, who is on loan from Portugal’s SL Benifica, carried the ‘Quakes to the victory with his first Major League Soccer goal. Djalo has come on as a sub in each of San Jose’s last four matches, but it’s possible he could earn his first start this weekend.
In addition to Djalo, one bright spot for the Quakes this season has been former Whitecaps FC midfielder Shea Salinas, who is tied for the league lead with four assists. Salinas also leads all of MLS with 3.86 chances created per 90 minutes (among players who have played at least 90 minutes).
Another player to watch is striker Chris Wondolowski, who leads the Quakes with three goals and is hoping to represent the United States senior men’s national team at this summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Though the likes of Djalo, Salinas and Wondolowski are the headliners, the Quakes have found success in recent weeks thanks to their strong defensive play – they’ve posted a clean sheet in each of their last two outings and have conceded just one goal in their last three matches combined.
There are a few Quakes players who will be sidelined due to injury this weekend, including striker Steven Lenhart (MCL sprain) and defender Jason Hernandez (quad strain).
Saturday’s contest will be the 34th all-time meeting between Vancouver and San Jose. With a 14W-11D record, the ‘Caps were the more successful team in the NASL era. And they also have the edge in MLS to date, with a 3W-1L-4D record over the last three seasons.
Last season, Whitecaps FC took the season series with a 1W-0L-2D record. In fact, the ‘Caps have yet to lose home game to San Jose in MLS.
The ‘Caps won’t have much time to rest after Saturday’s match, as they’re headed out east on Monday for a mid-week meeting with Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. PT on Wednesday, May 7.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($294), half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.