With a bitter taste still left in their mouths from Saturday's Major League Soccer defeat to FC Dallas, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are hoping a quick turnaround will look to put themselves back on track, as they begin their 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship campaign at Montreal Impact on Wednesday night.
Teitur Thordarson's side have had a challenging start to life in MLS, but a midweek trip to Quebec and a meeting with North American Soccer League (NASL) side Montreal provides the Blue and White with an opportunity to put their first home defeat behind them. Stade Saputo will play host to the 'Caps in the first leg of this two-match semifinal series, with the decisive second leg set for Wednesday, May 4, on Bell Pitch at Empire Field.
Though this will be the first time that Whitecaps FC play their Canadian rivals since becoming an MLS club, the long-standing rivalry that has existed between Vancouver and Montreal is sure to be in evidence when the two clubs clash on Wednesday night. Marc Dos Santos' side will be keen to prove they have the quality to compete with MLS opposition, with the Impact preparing to join MLS as the league's 19th franchise in 2012.
Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Jay Nolly knows the importance of playing Montreal, and for the Voyageurs Cup title, during his three seasons with Vancouver at the North American second division level. "It’s a big game," Nolly said. "It’s the first leg and it’s always good to get a result away. Montreal are going to be a tough team. They're preparing for MLS, so I’m sure they’ve got a lot of guys that are hungry to play and show that they deserve to be at the next level. It's is a tough place to play, so we've got to rebound from the FC Dallas defeat and be ready on Wednesday."
Whitecaps FC have yet to win the Nutrilite Canadian Championship since the competition came into being in 2008. With the Voyageurs Cup winner also claiming Canada's lone spot in the CONCACAF Champions League, the 'Caps are keen to earn the opportunity to face the best clubs in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean later this year.
"The Voyageurs Cup is something we've spoken about and we want to do well in it," said 'Caps midfielder Terry Dunfield. "I know Montreal is a difficult place to go, so we’re going to have to be up for it, for sure. Of course, losing this past weekend was not the best preparation for the Montreal game, but that’s one of the benefits of having a quick game on Wednesday. It will hopefully get this Dallas defeat out of our system."
Wednesday's semifinal, first leg, in the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship can be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific and East, beginning at 5 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the first leg live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca.
Tickets for the semifinal, second leg, at Empire Field on Wednesday, May 4, at 8 p.m. PT are now on sale. 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).