VANCOUVER, BC –Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 resume their United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) season with a pair of road matches against Victoria Highlanders FC and Seattle Sounders FC U-23 this weekend.
The 'Caps take on Highlanders FC this Friday with kickoff set for 7 p.m. PT at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, BC. A victory for the Highlanders will hand them the Juan de Fuca Plate - a supporter-created trophy for the best PDL team in British Columbia. Victoria took the first of the three matches between the club's with a 3-2 win over Vancouver on May 17 at Thunderbird Stadium.
Sunday's tilt will be another derby against Cascadia rivals Seattle, with kickoff at Sunset Stadium in Tacoma set for 2 p.m. PT.
WHITECAPS FC U-23
Vancouver start a run of five straight away matches with two tough opponents in Victoria and Seattle Sounders FC U-23.
The 'Caps will be buoyed by a confident 5-1 victory against North Sound SeaWolves FC in their last outing at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. Harry Lakhan and Spencer DeBoice grabbed a brace apiece against the SeaWolves before substitute Niall Cousens wrapped up the win.
Head of high performance Stuart Neely wants his team to get a positive result against Victoria after losing to them earlier in the season.
“We play them three times and the Juan de Fuca Plate is up for grabs,” said Neely. “They’ve taken a lead in that so we’ve got to go into the match prepared better mentally than what we were and we’ve got to put ourselves in a positive position.”
Neely is also looking forward to pitting his U-23 side against another MLS-affiliated PDL club when they take on the Sounders on Sunday.
“You’re putting on your club’s jersey and you’re playing against another MLS opponent,” commented Neely. “That makes it all the more exciting and gives you all the more reason to be well rested, well prepared. Bragging rights are always at stake when you get into games like that and at the end of the day it’s a great test for both teams.
VICTORIA HIGHLANDERS FC
The Highlanders are led by former Whitecaps FC women’s team assistant coach Steve Simonson in his first year in charge and have got off to a flying start to the current campaign.
They currently hold a 3W-0L-1D record and are top of the Western Conference Northwest Division. One of those wins came against Whitecaps FC when Victoria took a 3-2 victory at Vancouver in May.
Victoria have also defeated Kitsap Pumas and Sounders FC U-23s this season but dropped points against Vancouver’s last opponents, North Sound SeaWolves, drawing 2-2.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC U-23
Whitecaps FC will then take on Cascadia Cup rivals Seattle for the first time this season. Sounders FC U-23 have had a tough start to the season with back-to-back away losses and a draw.
They were beaten 2-0 at fellow Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers before suffering a 4-1 loss away to Victoria. In their last match they picked up a point from a 3-3 home draw against Kitsap Pumas.
The ‘Caps have an all-time record of 5W-3L-3D against Victoria Highlanders FC since they joined the PDL in 2009, including a 2W-1L-2D record in Victoria.
Against Sounders FC U-23 Vancouver hold a 0W-1L-1D record from last season, Seattle’s first competing in PDL. Vancouver lost 2-1 at Swangard stadium before the teams played out an entertaining 3-3 draw in the return game as Whitecaps FC scored two late goals to claim a point.
JUAN DE FUCA PLATE
Whitecaps FC and Victoria Highlanders FC compete for the Juan de Fuca Plate, a supporter-sponsored competition crowning the best PDL team from British Columbia and Friday’s match will be the second between the sides this season. Victoria currently hold the advantage in the three match series following their 3-2 win on May 17.
In its inaugural year in 2012, the Juan de Fuca Plate was contested between Fraser Valley Mariners, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and Victoria Highlanders FC. Vancouver won the inaugural title in 2012.
With the Mariners dropping out of the PDL this year, the competition will be contested between Whitecaps FC and Victoria and will be based on their three-game head-to-head series. For more information on the Juan de Fuca Plate, visit http://www.juandefucaplate.ca.
Vancouver are in action again next weekend as they take on North Sound SeaWolves on Friday June 7, with a 7:30p.m. PT kickoff in Edmonds, WA, before travelling to Bremerton, WA to face Kitsap Pumas on June 8, kicking off at 7p.m. PT.