Completing their second two-match home stand of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-2L-3D) face Western Conference rivals FC Dallas (1W-3L-1D) in Major League Soccer at Empire Field on Saturday afternoon.
Teitur Thordarson's side are keen to return to winning ways this weekend. Last Saturday's goalless draw with Chivas USA maintained Vancouver's unbeaten run at home, despite extending their winless run to five matches in MLS. Saturday's match against 2010 MLS Cup finalists FC Dallas starts a busy and important week of action for the Blue and White. On Wednesday, Whitecaps FC head to Quebec for the first leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal series with arch-rivals Montreal Impact. That is followed by Vancouver's first competitive meeting with MLS Eastern Conference club Columbus Crew in the Ohio state capital on Saturday, April 30.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas at Empire Field kicks off at 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on individual match tickets for the club's inaugural MLS season.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus FC Dallas can also be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the April 23 contest 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.
Saturday's match can also be seen in Cantonese on OMNI Television British Columbia at 4 p.m. PT. OMNI BC is available on Bell TV (channel 254), Shaw Cable (SD channel 8 and HD channel 213 in Vancouver), and Telus (SD channel 8 and HD channel 629 in Vancouver).
There were many promising signs from last weekend's result with Chivas USA, even though it was far from desirable that the 'Caps were held at home by one of their conference rivals. While the most notable aspects of the result were the quality of chances that were created - including two that came off the same post in the first half - Whitecaps FC fans will be excited by how their side moved their play to another level. A lot of Vancouver's attacking play was a result of some flowing soccer, as the likes of Camilo, Eric Hassli, and Davide Chiumiento opened up Chivas USA with passing and movement that was very pleasing on the eye.
Another encouraging sign for Thordarson is the ability of his entire squad to slot into his line-up and perform. MLS SuperDraft pick Jeb Brovsky made a very strong case for selection in central midfield after two solid displays versus Houston Dynamo and Chivas USA. The experience of local product Kevin Harmse will also be valuable to the 'Caps, with the Coquitlam, BC, native being versatile enough to play in a number of midfield or defensive positions. Youngsters Omar Salgado and Long Tan provide further attacking options for Vancouver. After the pair made their home debuts against Chivas USA, Salgado and Tan put in solid performances for the reserve side on Sunday, with Salgado scoring in a 1-1 home draw with Chivas USA reserves.
On the injury front, there have been some encouraging signs for Whitecaps FC this week, as a number of players are returning to full fitness. MLS SuperDraft pick Michael Nanchoff (groin) trained fully for the first time this season, while fellow midfielders Shea Salinas (knee) and Terry Dunfield (groin) also returned to training. However, it remains to be seen if the trio will be available to play on Saturday. Centre backs Jay DeMerit (groin) and Greg Janicki (hip), midfielders Russell Teibert (hip) and John Thorrington (calf), and striker Atiba Harris (knee) are listed as doubtful. Midfielder Gershon Koffie remains on international duty with Ghana's U-20 national team.
Coming off their most successful season, FC Dallas have so far struggled to regain the magic of their 2010 run to the MLS Cup final. Despite a late rally, last Sunday's 3-2 defeat to the Timbers in Portland was the Texas club's third loss of the year, with Schellas Hyndman's squad currently looking up at most of their rivals in the Western Conference standings. After playing in The City of Roses last weekend, FC Dallas remained in the Pacific Northwest this week instead of returning home before the Vancouver contest.
While their early season form has been disappointing, Hyndman's squad has plenty of talent. The Hoops are led by the league's Most Valuable Player in dynamic playmaker David Ferreira. The Colombian's skill and vision were a major factor in FC Dallas reaching the MLS Cup final last season, as he registered eight goals and 13 assists last term. Ferreira is one of four Colombians in the squad, with the most exciting of those South American imports being the youngest Designated Player in MLS history. At only 18 years of age, Fabian Castillo brings added pace and skill to FC Dallas, with the Colombian U-20 international showing little fear in attacking opposition backlines with the ball at his feet. With six players moving up from the club's academy, Hyndman looks to the experience of captain Daniel Hernandez and goalkeeper Kevin Hartman to provide important leadership to the club's younger players.
FC Dallas are without two defenders for their maiden visit to Vancouver. Kyle Davies (ankle) and Canadian Edson Edward (knee) look set to miss Saturday's match versus Whitecaps FC.
Saturday's game will be the first meeting between Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas. Both clubs meet again at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, October 15, with the contest being Vancouver's final away match of their 2011 regular season schedule.
While FC Dallas may be a new opponent for the Blue and White, Whitecaps FC have experience of playing teams from Dallas, Texas. During the days of the old North American Soccer League (NASL), Vancouver registered an 11W-5L-0D record versus Dallas Tornado between 1974 and 1981. This included a home record of 7W-1L-0D. During Whitecaps FC's run to the 1979 NASL Soccer Bowl title, Vancouver eliminated the Tornado in the National Conference playoff quarterfinals. The weekend match will also be the 46th time that Whitecaps FC have played a club from the state of Texas. At home, Vancouver have dominated clubs from The Lone Star State with an all-time record of 20W-1L-2D for an overall all-time record of 27W-14L-4D.
Both the 'Caps and FC Dallas also have some interesting connections in their two rosters. Harris was an important part of FC Dallas' squad last season, with the forward starting last year's MLS Cup final for the Texas club in Toronto, Ontario. Left fullback Blake Wagner spent four seasons with FC Dallas before arriving in Vancouver last season and signing with the 'Caps MLS squad this year. Whitecaps FC director of soccer operations Tom Soehn won the 1997 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup title as a member of FC Dallas (known then as Dallas Burn). Hartman and right fullback Jonathan Leathers are former Sporting Kansas City teammates, while Salinas played with goalkeeper Chris Seitz and defender/midfielder Andrew Jacobson at Philadelphia Union.
PARKING AROUND EMPIRE FIELD
With parking laws to be enforced in and around Empire Field and the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) grounds throughout the season, Whitecaps FC strongly encourage fans to take public transit. In cooperation with Translink, the 'Caps have established additional bus and SkyTrain service to Empire Field. There is also on-site parking at the PNE as a secondary option for fans. Whitecaps FC ask supporters to respect residents in and around the PNE by using public transportation, biking, and walking to home matches this season.
NEXT UP: NUTRILITE CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP
Following Saturday's home match in MLS, Whitecaps FC begin their quest to win the Voyageurs Cup for the first time when they visit North American Soccer League side Montreal Impact in the first leg of their Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal series on Wednesday night. Kickoff from Montreal's Stade Saputo is at 5 p.m. PT and is live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and East regions. 'Caps fans can also listen to the April 27 match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 3 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 7 p.m. PT.
Whitecaps FC Major League Soccer 2011 season tickets are available at a pro-rated price, starting at $252. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, suites, and loge boxes, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com.