VANCOUVER, BC – As you may have heard, English Premier League side Crystal Palace FC are coming to town for a friendly vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 19 at BC Place as part of the Vancouver International Soccer Challenge.
Here are 10 things you need to know about the London-based club.
Crystal Palace compete in the top-flight English Premier League.
This is their 110th year in existence. The Eagles' best Premier League season came in 1991, when they finished third. They've also won a pair of Football League Championship titles.
FA CUP FINALISTS
Crystal Palace are one game away from making history.
On Saturday, they will face Manchester United in the FA Cup Final at the famed Wembley Stadium after defeating Watford F.C. in front of a crowd of nearly 80,000 at Wembley in the semifinal.
The Eagles also defeated Tottenham Hotspur on their memorable run to this weekend's final.
The FA Cup is an annual competition that features 736 teams from the English Football Association. It’s considered to be the oldest football association competition in the world.
Arsenal are two-time defending FA Cup champions. The only other time Crystal Palace reached the FA Cup Final was in 1990. Coincidentally, they lost to Manchester United.
The winner of the FA Cup automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League.
With Euro 2016 just around the corner, one Crystal Palace player to highlight is French midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who was named to host France’s roster for the upcoming tournament.
Cabaye also represented France at Euro 2012 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Euro 2016 runs from June 10 to July 10. France is in Group A with Romania, Albania, and Switzerland.
One of the more recognizable players on Crystal Palace’s current roster is striker Emmanuel Adebayor, who is Togo’s all-time leading goalscorer with 31 goals at the international level. Adebayor represented Togo at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany – the country’s lone World Cup appearance to date.
The 32-year-old spent time with Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid, and Tottenham Hotspur before joining Crystal Palace in January 2016 on a six-month contract until the end of the season.
Adebayor has scored a total of 97 goals in the Premier League. That makes him the 26th all-time leading goalscorer in Premier League history.
He had one goal and one assist in 12 league appearances this season.
‘THE BOLASIE FLICK’
In 2014, Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie made headlines around the soccer world with a superb 360-degree spin and flick around Tottenham Hotspur’s Christian Eriksen that ESPN described at the time as “an instant of joy, of invention, of football at its very best.”
It was so good that EA Sports decided to include the move, now known as “The Bolasie Flick,” in FIFA 16 along with other moves from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar.
That says something.
So too does the fact that Bolasie is one of just 29 male players in FIFA 16 who are “5 star skillers.” He’s not necessarily a household name, but those who follow the Premiership know him as one of the trickiest and most skilled wingers in the league.
As the Daily Mail put it: “In virtually every match Bolasie plays, he produces tricks that defy belief in real-time and are hard to fathom even with the benefit of a few replays.”
A native of Ivory Coast, Wilfried Zaha joined the Crystal Palace academy at the age of 12 after immigrating to London with his family (and eight siblings) at the age of four.
Zaha eventually broke into the first team, and then after a short spell with Manchester United, returned to the London outfit, where he has now appeared in over 200 matches. Last week, the 23-year-old winger was voted as Crystal Palace’s Player of the Year.
He has two caps with the English national team.
EYES ON MLS?
A recent Yahoo Sports report suggested that Crystal Palace are one of two European teams who have interest in Portland Timbers striker Fanendo Adi. Last year, they were also rumoured to have interest in former Whitecaps FC midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, who grew up five minutes from Selhurst Park – Crystal Palace’s home ground in South Norwood, London.
MAN IN CHARGE
Speaking of Reo-Coker, the Englishman played under current Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew at West Ham United. In fact, Pardew made him the club captain. Pardew, a colourful coach who spent three years with Crystal Palace during his playing days, was the Premier League Manager of the Season in 2012 with Newcastle United.
Crystal Palace have three Welsh players on their current roster: goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and midfielders Jonny Williams and Joe Ledley. All three players have represented Wales internationally, and all three of them were named to the provisional roster for Euro 2016.
Ledley is a question mark, however, after suffering a fractured leg earlier this month.
So why is this relevant? Let’s not forget that Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson is a proud Welshman who represented his country 52 times.
In fact, Robinson, Hennessey and Ledley appeared in the ‘Caps manager’s final international appearance – a 2-0 loss to Finland in a World Cup qualifier on March 28, 2009. Former Whitecaps FC striker Robert Earnshaw, now the Pre-Residency coach, also appeared in the match.
GLAD ALL OVER
Last, and certainly not least, we need to talk about the Crystal Palace theme song.
The Dave Clark Five hit, which knocked The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” off the top of the UK charts in 1964, was adopted by Crystal Palace in the 1960s.
It’s played at the start of home games and after wins.
Here's a video of the team performing the song in advance of the 1990 FA Cup Final.
For more information, including FAQs, visit whitecapsfc.com/friendly.
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