Looking to complete a busy week of action, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-10L-8D) return to Major League Soccer action when they visit Western Conference rivals San Jose Earthquakes (5W-6L-8D) on Wednesday evening.
Tom Soehn's side head to Northern California in good spirits following their efforts in a 2-1 friendly defeat at home to English Premier League (EPL) giants Manchester City FC. Despite the disappointing result, the Blue and White gave their EPL visitors a stern test on Bell Pitch at Empire Field, with Monday's performance serving as a positive building block for the second half of this inaugural MLS season. The 'Caps visit an Earthquakes side that have struggled for form over the past month.
Wednesday's match between Whitecaps FC and San Jose Earthquakes from Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and is live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Wednesday's contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show.
For all the challenges that Whitecaps FC have faced this season, Monday's friendly at Empire Field was a triumph over adversity for the club. The incredible work by club and stadium staff to make the natural grass pitch playable was a huge accomplishment, as was the performance of all 22 players that appeared against Manchester City. It took a stunning strike from Shaun Wright-Phillips to deny Whitecaps FC another notable result against the EPL club.
What Whitecaps FC fans will have been encouraged by was the first-half display from Soehn's starting line-up. With Eric Hassli returning to action and strike partner Mustapha Jarju getting his first run-out since arriving as the club's second Designated Player, there is a strong possibility that the line-up that played the first 45 minutes against City will start Wednesday's important league game on the campus of Santa Clara University. Should Soehn decide to make a change, he will select playmaker Davide Chiumiento, who looks to have recovered from a recent hamstring problem.
Whitecaps FC, however, will be without striker Atiba Harris (knee) for Wednesday's game, while captain Jay DeMerit (adductor strain) and midfielder John Thorrington (calf) are doubtful for the San Jose trip. Youngster Russell Teibert (hip flexor) is listed as questionable. Left fullback Jordan Harvey will also miss Wednesday's match after picking up his fifth booking of the season in the 2-1 defeat at former club Colorado Rapids on July 9.
Sitting seventh in the Western Conference standings, 2011 has been a challenging season for San Jose to this stage. The Earthquakes come into the midweek clash with Vancouver looking to end a run of six matches without a victory, with the Bay Area outfit having played to two straight goalless draws versus Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew. However, Frank Yallop's side are looking to build on a home unbeaten streak of six matches versus the 'Caps. With his side in a battle to claim a postseason berth, Yallop brought in several new players in a trade with Toronto FC last Thursday. Coming to San Jose were Canadian international centre back Nana Attakora, midfielder Jacob Peterson, and experienced MLS striker Alan Gordon.
The Earthquakes' coaching staff have strong connections to Canada's west coast. Yallop and his assistant Mark Watson both hail from Vancouver and are former Canadian internationals. For a spell, Yallop was also head coach of the Canadian national team before to returning to the MLS coaching ranks with LA Galaxy in 2006. Watson, meanwhile, enjoyed two spells as a Whitecaps FC player in the early 1990's and 2005 before embarking on a coaching career that has seen him work with the Canadian national team program, United Soccer Leagues Professional Division side Charleston Battery, and MLS club New England Revolution.
San Jose will be without centre back Ike Opara (foot) and midfielder Andre Luiz (knee) for the visit of Vancouver, while defender Steven Beitashour (leg) is listed as doubtful. Gordon (quad) and midfielder Bobby Convey (knee) are questionable to face Whitecaps FC.
Whitecaps FC's inaugural MLS meeting with the Earthquakes at a rainy Empire Field on May 11 ended in a 1-1 draw, with Chiumiento scoring Vancouver's equalizer in time added on at the end of the match to cancel out Chris Wondolowski's first-half strike for San Jose. Before this season, both clubs met in friendly action when Vancouver was a North American second division club. The 'Caps lost 3-1 to San Jose Clash in Abbotsford, BC, on June 14, 1998, before falling to the re-named Earthquakes 3-1 at Swangard Stadium on August 14, 2001. The Earthquakes then defeated the 'Caps 4-3 in a friendly at Swangard on September 1, 2003. More recently, Whitecaps FC fell 2-1 to San Jose in MLS Reserve League action on March 22.
There is also plenty of history between Vancouver and San Jose dating back to the days of the original NASL. Between 1974 and 1984, Whitecaps FC registered 14 wins and 11 defeats in 25 meetings versus the Earthquakes, with the 'Caps recording six wins and seven defeats in San Jose during that era. Included in those 25 matches was Whitecaps FC's first competitive match as a club at the old Empire Stadium on May 5, 1974. A crowd of 17,343 saw Jim Easton's side lose that day, though 'Caps defender Neil Ellett wrote his name in the history books by scoring Vancouver's first goal in the NASL.
Whitecaps FC have two former Earthquakes players in their roster. A native of the Bay Area, goalkeeper Joe Cannon spent a large portion of his MLS career with San Jose before the 'Caps selected him in the 2010 MLS Expansion Draft from the Earthquakes. Speedy winger Shea Salinas, meanwhile, started his MLS career in San Jose before moving to Philadelphia Union last season. As for the Earthquakes, Whitecaps FC fans will always remember Joey Gjertsen's role in taking Vancouver to a United Soccer Leagues First Division title in 2006 after being named the league's Most Valuable Player that season.
HOME TO THE GALAXY
Following Wednesday's trip to San Jose, Whitecaps FC will have 10 days off before hosting Western Conference powerhouse LA Galaxy on Saturday, July 30. Kickoff from Bell Pitch at Empire Field is set for 4:30 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).
Whitecaps FC's home match versus LA Galaxy can also be seen live on TSN and Bell mobile devices at 4:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the July 30 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 6:30 p.m. PT.
MLS single match tickets are also available for all of our remaining matches at Empire Field this season, ranging from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster