VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC host longtime Canadian rival Toronto FC on Saturday in an afternoon affair at BC Place. And if last year’s meetings – a 4-3 thriller at BMO Field and heartbreaking Voyageurs Cup defeat at BC Place – are any indication, you probably won’t want to miss it. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PT and tickets are still available.
KO: 1 p.m. PT | TICKETS: http://ow.ly/DKTg309Zbqz | TV: CTV/TSN1 | RADIO: TSN 1410
Here’s everything you need to know about the match.
Key absences: Both sides will be missing key pieces on Saturday, with Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted serving a one-match suspension after picking up a red card against San Jose and Toronto FC superstar Sebastian Giovinco ruled out with leg contusion suffered last weekend. Ousted and Giovinco are usually mainstays in their respective XIs. How will each side cope without them?
So we meet again: This will be the 22nd all-time meeting between Vancouver and Toronto dating back to 2008 – and the first meeting since last year’s heartbreaking Voyageurs Cup defeat. That’s something the ‘Caps haven’t forgotten. “We want to be the best Canadian team,” said Whitecaps FC defender Tim Parker. “Obviously with the way that Canadian Championship ended last year, it left a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth especially with it being Toronto. With them being the first Canadian team we get the opportunity to play against this year, we want to start off on a good note.”
Getting on track: It’s still early – very early. But Vancouver and Toronto are both searching for their first wins in MLS play this season after a pair of matches. The ‘Caps have a loss and a draw, while the Reds have a pair of draws.
Kendall Waston (CB) vs. Jozy Altidore (FWD): With Giovinco out of the lineup, the one to watch for Toronto is Jozy Alditore. The U.S. international was a force down the stretch for TFC last season, scoring 16 goals in his last 22 matches (including five goals in six MLS Cup appearances). He’s always a handful for opposing defenders, but Kendall Waston is never one to shy away from a battle.
Matias Laba (M) vs. Michael Bradley (M): Matias Laba was essentially replaced by Michael Bradley after his first season with Toronto FC – and Whitecaps FC reaped the benefits. Both these guys love getting stuck in (Laba, in fact, is the league-leader in tackles since joining the league in 2013). Enter the midfield at your own risk.
Kekuta Manneh (W/F) vs. Steven Beitashour (RB): In last year’s MLS meeting between the two teams, Kekuta Manneh terrorized the TFC back line with a two-goal, one-assist performance in a 4-3 win at BMO Field. Can he do so again on Saturday? Certainly, not if former Whitecaps FC defender Steven Beitashour has anything to do with it.
DID YOU KNOW?
Saturday's match falls a day before the sixth anniversary of Vancouver’s inaugural MLS match – a memorable 4-2 win over Toronto FC at Empire Stadium.
“Playing against Toronto, especially for me, it’s a special game whether it’s in Toronto or whether it’s in Vancouver. Toronto is where I grew up playing a lot of my soccer, and Vancouver is now where I’ve played the majority of my soccer. Playing against them, playing against friends, it’s a great rivalry and it’s about bragging rights.” – Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert