VANCOUVER, BC – It's almost here.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC kick off their 2015 MLS campaign against Toronto FC on Saturday afternoon at BC Place.
Here are three storylines to get you set for the match.
Sure, you could say the midfield battle is a storyline to watch every game, but not quite like this one. Just look at the attacking midfielders on each side.
The ‘Caps have Pedro Morales, the reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year. He was a treat to watch in 2014, scoring 10 goals and recording 12 assists. Some of the stuff he pulls off on the pitch, whether it’s his pinpoint cross-field passes or cheeky juggling displays, just never gets old. And now, after finally getting a break, Carl Robinson believes Morales can be even better. Scary.
Morales’ counterpart on Toronto FC is recently signed Designated Player Sebastian Giovinco, or the “Atomic Ant,” as they call him. At 5-foot-4, Giovinco won’t scare anyone with his stature – but rather, his ability. The 28-year-old, who has 21 caps with the Italian senior men’s national team, scored 14 goals in 93 career appearances with Serie A side Juventus.
It’s going to take a collaborative effort to keep Giovinco at bay, but surely Matias Laba will be front and centre. The ‘Caps defensive midfielder, who led MLS in tackles last season, loves a challenge (no pun intended). And he’s got one.
Get the point? This midfield battle is going to be fun to watch.
KEEP THE STREAK ALIVE
Get this: the ‘Caps are undefeated in their last 13 home openers dating back to 2002. That includes a perfect 4W-0L-0D record in the MLS era – two of those victories came over Toronto FC.
Last season, Vancouver stormed out of the gate in their season opener, defeating New York Red Bulls 4-1 on a memorable night at BC Place. Morales had a dazzling debut, recording a goal and an assist in just 25 minutes of action as a second-half substitute.
Can Whitecaps FC keep the streak alive on Saturday?
WELCOME TO VANCOUVER
Speaking of debuts, Saturday’s match will be the first opportunity for fans to see new Young Designated Player Octavio Rivero in action. The 23-year-old striker joined Whitecaps FC in the offseason after scoring 10 goals in 16 matches with O’Higgins FC in Chile’s Primera Division last season.
"He’s got all the attributes you want to be a top forward," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. "He’s big, he’s strong, he’s quick and he’s getting fitter. Obviously, because he had some time off, he needed to get up to speed and he’s getting there slowly.”
There will also be a striker debut at the other end of the park, as Jozy Altidore plays in his first match for Toronto FC, which should make for a juicy matchup with Whitecaps FC centre back Kendall Waston.
Participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver! The 2015 Whitecaps FC season kicks off on March 7 versus Toronto FC at BC Place. Whitecaps FC Season Tickets are now on sale. In addition to Season Tickets, Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, and a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket. For more information on 2015 Season Tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.