VANCOUVER, BC – The ‘Caps are coming home.
On Thursday night at BC Place, Vancouver Whitecaps FC host New York Red Bulls in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals (7 p.m. PT – tickets still available).
Here are five reasons you won’t want to miss it.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
The ‘Caps have never hosted a Champions League knockout stage match. Until now.
It’s a big moment in the club’s history. This is the premier competition in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean. And the ‘Caps are one result away from moving on to the semifinals, where they would face either Pumas UNAM or Tigres UANL – two of the big clubs in Mexico.
If the ‘Caps can get the result they need on Thursday, a win or scoreless draw, it will no doubt be one of the greatest moments for the club since joining Major League Soccer in 2011.
Are you ready for Fredy?
Sorry, just had to get that in there. As you may have heard, Whitecaps FC have acquired Fredy Montero as their new Designated Player striker. And he comes with quite the pedigree, including three MLS all-star selections in his previous four years in the league.
Montero, who is still trying to work his way up to full fitness after not really having a preseason training camp, didn’t play in the first leg of the quarterfinals. But head coach Carl Robinson said “he’ll definitely be involved” on Thursday. Whether that’s as a starter or sub remains to be seen. Robinson said he's also hopeful that Brek Shea, who was acquired on Saturday from Orlando City SC, would be available for selection.
Let's make sure to give them a warm Vancouver welcome.
VANCOUVER VS. NEW YORK
There’s a long history between these two cities – and this is the latest chapter.
The ‘Caps and Red Bulls have produced plenty of thrillers too, including last week’s first leg that featured a Kekuta Manneh goal, David Ousted penalty save, and Cristian Techera red card.
Speaking of Manneh, who is healthy again after fracturing his foot last summer, he and 16-year-old Alphonso Davies showed plenty of attacking promise with their pace down the wings in the first leg, offering a glimpse of what could turn into an exciting partnership.
TEST AGAINST THE BEST
New York’s roster features two of the premier attacking players in MLS.
Up front, they have former Manchester City and Southampton striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, who also happens to be a two-time MLS Golden Boot winner. And just behind him, they have U.S. national team midfielder Sacha Kljestan, who led MLS with 20 assists in 2016. To put that number into context, no player has recorded more assists in a single season since 2000.
Wright-Phillips found the back of the net in the first leg, while Ousted denied a Kljestan penalty kick. Can the 'Caps keep them both in check on Thursday?
HOME SWEET HOME
This may be the best reason of them all.
It’s been over four months since the ‘Caps played at BC Place. On Thursday night, they return home to play one of the biggest matches in the club’s MLS history.
They need your support now more than ever. Yes, it was a difficult 2016 season, but the page has turned. It’s a new year with new opportunities.
Let’s start it off the right way.