VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC are set to meet Toronto FC in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal Wednesday at BMO Field.
KICKOFF: 4:30 p.m. PT TV: Sportsnet ONE RADIO: TEAM 1410
Here are three storylines to get you set for the match.
The future is now
At this point, it’s no secret: the ‘Caps are fielding a youthful side Wednesday against Toronto (though more experienced players like Carlyle Mitchell, Johnny Leveron and others are also expected to start).
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson has already confirmed that 17-year-old Marco Carducci and 20-year-old Bryce Alderson will start. There’s a good chance 21-year-old Christian Dean does the same. Robinson also said that 18-year-old Residency midfielders Marco Bustos and Kianz Froese could get some minutes.
Dean is the only player among that group who has appeared in an MLS match – the centre back came on as a late substitute against Chivas USA earlier this season.
These players have all impressed at the youth level, but how will they fare against MLS competition?
We’re about to find out.
They’re ours now
There are two former Toronto FC MLS players now within the Whitecaps FC organization: Robinson and midfielder Matias Laba.
Robinson joined Toronto FC for their inaugural MLS season in 2007 and served as co-captain in each of his three seasons with the club. In total, the Whitecaps FC manager made 74 appearances for the Southern Ontario outfit and was twice named the club’s most valuable player.
Laba, meanwhile, spent one season with Toronto FC before making the move to Vancouver in February.
Before the trade, TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen said the club would “move hell and high water” to keep Laba, a Young Designated Player, but they simply couldn’t find a way to do so after acquiring the maximum three Designated Players.
Also of note, both Russell Teibert and Residency defender/midfielder Jordan Haynes, who is on Vancouver’s preliminary roster for Wednesday’s match, spent some time with the Toronto FC Academy before joining Whitecaps FC’s Residency program.
Bloody big deal
Toronto made a huge splash this offseason, signing U.S. national team star Michael Bradley and longtime English Premier League striker Jermain Defoe – not to mention Brazilian striker Gilberto and national team goalkeeper Julio Cesar.
Cesar won't start on Wednesday but it sounds like Defoe will – it’s unclear at this point whether Bradley or Gilberto will play. Defoe, who is hoping to represent England at the upcoming World Cup, has scored over 150 goals in his professional career – not a bad test for Carducci in his first professional match.
“It’s a great opportunity, regardless of who they play,” Carducci told reporters. “It’ll be great test either way. If we get the chance to play against those players, it will be a great moment and really exciting.”
Whitecaps FC 2014 season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps are also offering a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.