This weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC continue their preseason preparations, as they play their first two games of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. They will be playing MLS Eastern Conference opposition, as they take on Canadian arch-rivals and MLS expansion side Montreal Impact on Friday evening before meeting Houston Dynamo on Sunday afternoon.
MONTREAL IMPACT - FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24 - KICKOFF: 5 P.M. PT
Whitecaps FC’s first game of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic sees Vancouver meet MLS newcomers Montreal. Although it is still preseason, there will be no love lost between the two Canadian clubs, as they continue the rivalry that has a long history on and off the pitch. Both sides will be looking for an edge, as they will meet again in just over two weeks from now for MLS First Kick at BC Place.
With the 2012 season just around the corner, both clubs will be looking to get their respective starting XI’s as many minutes as possible to gain more match fitness and to continue building good chemistry. There could be a few familiar faces in the Impact line-up, as former ‘Caps striker Eduardo Sebrango signed an MLS contract with the Impact on Tuesday, while former Vancouver rookie Jeb Brovsky was acquired by Montreal in the 2011 MLS Expansion Draft.
Friday’s match will be the first encounter (friendly or competitive) between both Vancouver and Montreal as MLS sides. From 1993 to 2011, both Whitecaps FC and the Impact met in 55 competitive meetings, with the majority of those games coming at the North American second division level. Montreal lead the all-time series of results with 29 wins, 16 defeats, and 10 draws during that time. They last met in the semifinals of the 2011 Nutrilite Canadian Championship. Vancouver defeated the Impact 1-0 in Montreal in the first leg on April 27, 2011, before playing out a dramatic 1-1 extra-time draw in the second leg at Empire Field on May 4, 2011. Whitecaps FC won the semifinal series 2-1 on aggregate.
HOUSTON DYNAMO - SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 - KICKOFF: 10 A.M. PT
In the second game of the tournament, Whitecaps FC will take on last year’s beaten MLS Cup finalists in the Houston Dynamo. The Texas outfit are likely to be one of the strongest clubs in the Eastern Conference this season, and Sunday’s game will give the Blue and White a good measure of how much Martin Rennie’s squad is coming together.
Houston will be happy to have their veteran striker Brian Ching back in the mix, and with most of last year’s squad still intact, the Dynamo will be looking to give the new-look Vancouver side a stern test. Last year, Houston had one of the meanest defences in the league and it looks like the same faces will be anchoring head coach Dominic Kinnear’s back four in 2012. Sunday will be an excellent challenge for the Whitecaps FC strike force that includes a number of exciting attacking options.
Both Vancouver and Houston met for the first time last season in MLS. Houston won 3-1 at home to Vancouver on April 10, 2011, before Whitecaps FC struck back with a late 1-0 home win over the Dynamo at Empire Field on August 27, 2011.