Looking to extend a three-match winning streak, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-2L-2D) return to Major League Soccer matters when they host Western Conference leaders San Jose Earthquakes (7W-1L-1D) on Bell Pitch at BC Place on Saturday afternoon. The game will also mark 38 years since Whitecaps FC played their first-ever competitive match as a club. As members of the original North American Soccer League (NASL), Whitecaps FC hosted San Jose at the old Empire Stadium on May 5, 1974. Though the ‘Caps lost 2-1 in front a crowd of 17,343, defender Neil Ellett wrote his name in the history books by scoring Vancouver's first competitive goal.
Martin Rennie’s side started a very busy month of May in fine fashion with a 2-0 victory at FC Edmonton in the first leg of their 2012 Amway Canadian Championship (ACC) semifinals. Wednesday’s result in Alberta followed two important victories over FC Dallas and Columbus Crew in MLS. The ‘Caps now have a chance to exact revenge on high-flying San Jose after falling to the Earthquakes in Northern California nearly a month ago.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place 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 Whitecaps FC tickets.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus San Jose Earthquakes can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match 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. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
The month of May could see Whitecaps FC play as many as eight MLS and Canadian Championship matches, but with Rennie’s squad in a rich vein of form, there may be few complaints with how busy Vancouver’s schedule will be in the next few weeks. Three straight wins in all competitions has provided a boost of confidence, with seven clean sheets in nine matches underlining a defensive resiliency that is making Whitecaps FC a side to be reckoned with in MLS.
Rennie will be particularly pleased that a result was earned in Edmonton by many of his squad players - a couple of whom saw their first bit of competitive action for the Blue and White at Commonwealth Stadium. While the likes of captain Jay DeMerit, right fullback Young-Pyo Lee, and goalscorer Camilo Sanvezzo were rested during the week, a fit-again Alain Rochat saw 90 minutes of action following his spell on the sidelines with a knee injury. Davide Chiumiento also looked sharp in his first appearance in three matches. Yet, it was Omar Salgado that continued to impress on the left-hand side of Rennie’s 4-3-3 formation. His influence on the Vancouver attack could see the youngster play a vital role through the many games that lie ahead.
Whitecaps FC will be without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee) and striker Darren Mattocks (arm and shoulder burn) for Saturday’s match. Camilo, midfielder Jun Marques Davidson (adductor), and striker Etienne Barbara (groin) are listed as probable.
One of the stories of the season, San Jose’s fine start has surprised, as much as it has impressed, MLS observers. Wednesday night’s thrilling 5-3 home win over D.C. United extended the Earthquakes’ unbeaten streak to seven matches (6W-0L-1D) and put them at the summit of the Western Conference and league standings with 22 points from nine games played. Led by a pair of Vancouver natives in Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop and his assistant - former Whitecaps FC defender Mark Watson – the Bay Area outfit travel to BC Place with an undefeated record away from home.
A big reason for San Jose’s upswing in fortune this year has been the potency of their attack. In Chris Wondolowski, the Earthquakes possess the league’s top scorer with 10 goals this season, while strike partner Steven Lenhart has also contributed with a pair of two-goal performances recently. Wondolowski has particularly enjoyed scoring against Vancouver, having registered five goals in three appearances over this season and last.
San Jose will be without centre back Victor Bernardez (knee), defender Tim Ward (soft tissue injury), and striker Alan Gordon (hamstring) in Vancouver. Former Whitecaps FC players Joey Gjertsen (knee) and Shea Salinas (clavicle) will also miss Saturday’s game.
Saturday’s match will be the fourth all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and San Jose, with the Earthquakes winning the first of three regular season encounters this season on April 7. In what was an eventful Easter weekend clash at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, California, Sebastien Le Toux gave Vancouver the lead shortly after halftime before San Jose claimed victory with three goals in 10 second-half minutes. Wondolowski equalized and added an insurance goal for the Earthquakes, while substitute Gordon scored the match winner for the home side. Vancouver did earn the consolation of setting a new MLS record for consecutive minutes without allowing a goal to start a season at 427 minutes. Their first MLS encounter was at a rainy Empire Field on May 11, 2011, as both clubs drew 1-1. Wondolowski gave San Jose the lead in the first half before Vancouver earned a point in stoppage time with a first MLS goal from Chiumiento. The ‘Caps also drew last season’s away clash with San Jose on July 20, 2011. Two goals by Eric Hassli cancelled out Wondolowski's two goals for the Earthquakes in a 2-2 draw at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Before 2011, 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. 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 eight victories and four losses at home during that time.
There are several player connections between Vancouver and San Jose. A native of the Bay Area, Whitecaps FC 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. Other connections include San Jose midfielder Tressor Moreno and Whitecaps FC striker Hassli spending two seasons together at FC Metz in France's Ligue 1, while Quakes newcomer Marvin Chávez and Vancouver striker Atiba Harris were teammates at FC Dallas.
As Western Conference rivals, Saturday’s match is the second of three regular season meetings between Whitecaps FC and the Earthquakes in 2012. Vancouver will host San Jose for a second time at BC Place on Sunday, July 22.
FC EDMONTON ARRIVE NEXT
Following the visit of San Jose, Whitecaps FC will look to secure their place in the 2012 Amway Canadian Championship final when they host FC Edmonton in the second leg of their semifinal on Wednesday evening. Kickoff from Bell Pitch at BC Place is set for 8 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 Whitecaps FC tickets.
Whitecaps FC's semifinal, second leg, versus FC Edmonton can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and West regions at 8 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 6 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 10 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Wednesday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that three new match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.