For the first time in their history, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Ottawa Fury FC will be facing each other in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal. But, this isn’t just the first meeting in the Canadian Championship - this is their first meeting ever. (Catch the action live on TSN1 tonight at 4:30 p.m. PT.)
On the one hand, Whitecaps FC moved from the NASL, to the CSL, to the USL, to USSF Division 2, to their current spot in MLS. Ottawa Fury FC, on the other hand, were founded out of the PDL’s Ottawa Fury SC in 2011. With this in mind, alongside quick exits from the Canadian Championship in previous years by Ottawa, the two clubs have never run into each other in any competition.
What else does this mean? The ‘Caps have never visited the new-and-improved TD Place Stadium in the capital city!
So, without further ado, here are some facts about the connections, the place, and some fun facts on Canada’s capital in preparation for tonight's match.
Ottawa’s assistant coach and assistant general manager Martin Nash (pictured, on the left with head coach Paul Dalglish) is a familiar name for many long-time 'Caps supporters. The former midfielder spent 10 years with the club before the team moved into MLS. His brother, basketball great Steve Nash, is co-owner of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Ottawa goalkeeping coach Bruce Grobbelaar is a former Whitecaps player as well, having played one season with the team from 1979 to 1980. He played with Whitecaps FC legend and current club ambassador Carl Valentine, and Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi.
Valentine also coached Ottawa Fury for one season in 2009 when they played in the USL Premier Development League; the side finished first in the Northeast, and made it to the divisional finals.
Dalglish, who took over as Fury head coach in November 2015, coached Whitecaps FC forward Kekuta Manneh in 2012 with the Austin Aztex of the USL Premier Development League.
Ottawa players Paulo Junior, Jonny Steele and Kyle Porter have all been a part of the Whitecaps FC organization. Junior spent part of the 2013 season with the 'Caps; he was on the bench for two games that summer. Steele played for the USSF 'Caps in 2010. Finally, Porter was a member of the Whitecaps FC Residency program from 2007 to 2010.
Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson played with Ottawa midfielder Julian de Guzman for two seasons with Toronto FC. They first appeared in a match together on September 26, 2009 against Chicago Fire.
From a national perspective, Ottawa Fury players de Guzman and Marcel de Jong are both members of the Canadian national soccer team, alongside Whitecaps FC players Sam Adekugbe, Fraser Aird, Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese, and Russell Teibert.
TD Place Stadium sits on the site of what used to be Lansdowne Park, more specifically Frank Clair Stadium. Rebuilt in 2014, the stadium can hold 24,000 people and sits beside the famous Rideau Canal just outside of downtown Ottawa.
The stadium was completed just in time for both the Ottawa Fury FC 2014 home opener, and the inaugural home match for the Ottawa Redblacks, the capital city's CFL team.
Since it was rebuilt, the stadium played host to six matches in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup (though the stadium was named Lansdowne Stadium during the event). Ottawa hosted Group B during the tournament, which included Norway, Thailand, Cote d’Ivoire, and Germany. In the round of 16, the stadium hosted Germany and Sweden, and saw Germany defeat the Swedes 4-1, as well as England's 2-1 win over Norway. Finally, they hosted USA and China PR in a quarter-final match, which saw USA defeat China 1-0 (pictured); USA would eventually win the entire tournament here in Vancouver at BC Place.
Rock legends AC/DC played a concert at TD Place Stadium on September 3, 2015, the biggest concert since the stadium re-opened. The crowd at the event was about 32,000.
The stadium, since its renovation, has twice played host to one of the oldest Canadian university football rivalry matches: the Panda Game between Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. At its peak, the Panda Game was the most popular regular season college football match in Canada. Carleton has won the last two Panda Games, with the 2015 match drawing a record crowd of 17,500 fans.
The Grey Cup has been played in the stadium five times, the most recent being the 92nd Grey Cup in 2004. In front of a crowd of over 51,000 fans, the Toronto Argonauts defeated the BC Lions. The halftime show that night? Canadian greats, The Tragically Hip.
Make sure to catch tonight's match on TSN1 as a new rivalry is born.
Be a part of the best sporting atmosphere in Vancouver! Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including Half-Season Packs, 5-Packs, a Youth Soccer Half-Season Ticket, and single match tickets. For more information, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.