Nearly a month into their preparations for the 2012 Major League Soccer season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to preseason action this weekend, as they visit Vancouver Island to take on University of Victoria Vikes at UVic’s Centennial Stadium on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. PT. Tickets for Sunday’s friendly can be purchased through UVic by phone at 250.721.8480 or online at tickets.uvic.ca.
After a 10-day stay in Arizona earlier this month, Martin Rennie’s squad continued preseason training at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex this past week. Sunday’s trip to the British Columbia provincial capital will be Whitecaps FC’s third preseason contest, with the Blue and White having earned a pair of 1-1 draws in two extended training matches versus MLS Western Conference rivals Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Sunday’s match will be an historical one in North American soccer, as the friendly meeting between the ‘Caps and Vikes will be the first-ever public meeting between an MLS club and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) side. Between 2005 and 2010, the ’Caps and Vikes previously met in friendly matches on six occasions when Vancouver were a North American second division club. Whitecaps FC hold the advantage with a record with four wins, one defeat, and one draw.
The ‘Caps will travel to Vancouver Island with a 20-player squad that includes some of the club’s new additions, a handful of returning players, and talented youngsters. Senior players to appear in Victoria include playmaker Davide Chiumiento, left fullback Jordan Harvey, and midfielder Gershon Koffie. New signings Jun Marques Davidson, Brad Knighton, and Matt Watson will also make the trip, as will top MLS SuperDraft picks Darren Mattocks and Omar Salgado. Whitecaps FC Residency products Bryce Alderson, Caleb Clarke, Callum Irving, and Russell Teibert are also included to face UVic.
Finishing first overall in CIS, the Vikes completed their 2011 championship season with a record of 14W-2L-2D. Other accolades included UVic head coach Bruce Wilson receiving the distinction of being named Canada West ‘Head Coach of the Year’ for 2011. An original member of the North American Soccer League’s Vancouver Whitecaps from 1974 to 1977, Wilson is celebrating his 24th season at the helm of the Vikes. His current UVic squad also includes CIS championship tournament Most Valuable Player Cam Hundal. The native of Surrey, BC, was a member of the Whitecaps FC Prospects program in 2009 and 2010.
UVic come into Sunday’s match off the heels of an undefeated 10-day tour to Florida, with Wilson’s squad returning home to Victoria, BC, on Saturday. They started the tour with a 3-0 win over Florida Atlantic University on February 11. Two days later, the reigning CIS champions won 5-0 over the U-20 state champions from Boca Raton, Florida, before earning a 1-1 draw with Lynn University on Thursday.
Following Sunday’s friendly at UVic, Whitecaps FC will head to Orlando, Florida, on Monday morning to take part in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The ‘Caps will face Canadian arch-rivals and MLS expansion club Montreal Impact on Friday, February 24, at 5 p.m. PT before meeting a second MLS Eastern Conference club in Houston Dynamo on Sunday, February 26, at 10 a.m. PT. They wrap up their schedule with a match versus Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday, February 29, at 3 p.m. PT. On Sunday, March 4, Whitecaps FC will conclude their preseason schedule with a friendly versus Rennie’s former club Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, at 12 p.m. PT.
WHITECAPS FC SQUAD – UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA VIKES FRIENDLY
GOALKEEPERS: Callum Irving, Brad Knighton
DEFENDERS: Michael Boxall, Bilal Duckett, Jordan Harvey, Greg Klazura, Carlyle Mitchell, Suley Nuru
MIDFIELDERS: Bryce Alderson, Davide Chiumiento, Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert, Matt Watson
STRIKERS: Caleb Clarke, Darren Mattocks, Omar Salgado, Long Tan
Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $329, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com.