“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play the Galaxy in Edmonton,” said Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi. “One of our club’s mandates is to grow the game of soccer and this match will allow us to do that by showcasing two of North America’s most storied soccer franchises. Edmonton has successfully hosted some of the biggest soccer events in Canadian history and I am positive that this match will be no different.”
Founded in 1996, the Galaxy are widely considered one of the most successful clubs in the 14-team MLS, having won MLS Cups titles in 2002 and 2005 and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2001 and 2005. They also won the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions’ Cup in 2000.
“We have a tremendous relationship with the Vancouver Whitecaps and share their view of growing the sport throughout North America,” said Galaxy Assistant General Manager Tom Payne. “The first time that we played the Whitecaps the game ended in a draw, this time we are looking to score goals, entertain the fans of Edmonton and come away with a victory.”
England international David Beckham and U.S. international Landon Donovan highlight the Galaxy’s star-studded line-up. Beckham’s resume includes three FIFA World Cups and 17 goals in 99 appearances for his country. In addition to his success with England, the midfielder has helped Real Madrid win Spain’s Primera Division in the 2006-2007 season and led Manchester United to six English Premier League (EPL) titles, as well as the 1998-1999 UEFA Champions League. Donovan, a veteran of two FIFA World Cups, is the U.S. national team’s all-time scorer with 35 goals in 98 appearances. The forward has won three MLS Cup titles, including the 2005 championship with the Galaxy.
In addition to Beckham and Donovan, the Galaxy’s roster includes Guatemala national team striker Carlos Ruiz and two Canadian internationals in defender Ante Jazić from Bedford, Nova Scotia and former Whitecaps defender/midfielder Kevin Harmse, who hails from Coquitlam, British Columbia. Ruud Gullit, who is a former manager of EPL sides Chelsea and Newcastle United, coaches the Galaxy. In 1987, Gullit was named European Player of the Year and he captained the Netherlands to the European Championship title in 1988. The Galaxy open their regular season on March 29 away to Colorado Rapids.
The Whitecaps play in the 11-team United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) and boast a formidable roster. Long-time veterans include Canadian international midfielders Martin Nash and Jeff Clarke and defender Steve Kindel. Nash, the 2007 Whitecaps team MVP, has won three USL-1 titles and earned 38 international caps. All three members were key contributors to the Whitecaps 2006 USL-1 championship season.
The 2008 edition of the Whitecaps will see former Icelandic international striker Teitur Thordarson, who has also coached the Estonian national team, at the helm. Thordarson will look to integrate members from the Whitecaps Residency program, which includes Edmonton natives Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Marcus Johnstone and Antonio Rago, as well as Ethan Gage who hails from Cochrane, Alberta, into the first team.
Whitecaps soccer hails back to 1973. The current team was formed in 1986 and is the oldest soccer franchise in North America. The Whitecaps kick off their 22nd season on April 12 at Swangard Stadium against Montreal Impact.
To ensure a successful event the Whitecaps and Galaxy will work closely with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.
"As a community-owned team, the Eskimos are proud to help bring this very special event to our fans and the city of Edmonton," said Eskimos President and CEO Rick LeLacheur. "I’m especially pleased that Eskimo fans will have first chance to buy these highly sought after tickets. We’re looking forward to a great night of soccer between the Whitecaps and Galaxy at Commonwealth Stadium."
Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium has hosted some of Canada’s biggest soccer events. In 1994, Commonwealth drew close to 50,000 fans for a friendly between Canada and Brazil. In 2002, a crowd of 47,484 saw the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup championship match between the U.S. and Canada. Also, last summer, Edmonton was a host city for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in which three matches exceeded 30,000 fans in attendance.
Individual match tickets for the May 13 friendly will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, March 8 at 10:00 a.m. and will range from $25 to $85. Seating configuration at Commonwealth Stadium will be limited to the lower bowl of 25,000. However, if demand permits, select upper bowl seating may become available. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/galaxy or call 604.669.WAVE (9283).