Vancouver Whitecaps face big spending Manchester City this evening at a soggy Empire Field.
After staff worked round the clock for three days, the game finally got the go ahead just after 3pm this afternoon, although some concerns about the state of the pitch still exist.
The match will be the Caps first friendly as a MLS side, but it is not the Manchester side’s first visit to the city. It is their third.
Back in the Caps NASL days, the then reigning Soccer Bowl champs took on a Man City side on May 24th 1980. It was a huge occasion for the city and 32,794 fans turned out to see Vancouver rout the Mancs 5-0. We may see that scoreline tonight, but in reverse.
Caps legends Bob Lenarduzzi and Carl Valentine played in that game, with Bobby scoring a goal and Carl creating four of them.
That game was part of the Transatlantic Challenge Tournament that also involved the New York Cosmos and AS Roma. The American side won it with 5 points, with the Caps second on four, having drawn their other two games (only two points for a win back in the day!).
City came back to Vancouver the following year and suffered another defeat, this time 2-0.
So after two games, Vancouver have a 7-0 lead over Man City. I think we can still hold the advantage in the series after this evening’s game. Might be tight though!
Tonight’s game is part of the “World Football Challenge” – the farce of a “tournament” that sees 14 matches played slap bang in the middle of the MLS season, when teams are fighting for points and playoff spots, but all that goes to the side for the sake of some meaningless “glamour”.
Under the rules of the “tournament”, both teams will have 25 man squads at their disposal and they can use 11 of their 14 subs. Going to be heartbreaking for the three Caps guys that don’t get to go on the field.
What should we expect tonight?
Well the pitch will be a little bit of a leveller, but City should still be way too strong for the struggling Caps. Not that we can do too much worse than what New England and LA Galaxy have done in the two games played so far. Or hopefully not anyway!
The EPL side beat Mexico’s Club America 2-0 in San Francisco on Saturday and looked sharp for it being their first friendly of the season.
Although many will be coming to see the big stars at Empire this evening, one player we would say to look out for is Northern Ireland international defender Ryan McGivern, who could be on the verge of a breakthrough season with the Manchester club.
He scored on Saturday and you be watching in years to come and saying, “oh yeah, I saw him at Empire”.
Whatever our thoughts on these friendlies, we do hope that this evening’s match is somewhat of a spectacle – in a good way, not a thrashing!
There are three things that do concern us.
Firstly, let’s hope that if the game starts, it finishes. Having to abandon it because of the state of the pitch would be the final embarrassment in all this. It needs to hold up for the full ninety.
Secondly, and this is our main concern, let’s just hope no players from either side suffer any injury, serious or otherwise, due to the condition of the pitch. That would be unforgiveable.
Finally, let’s hope that none of the Whitecaps players play so well that we lose them in the transfer window! The way we’re going this season, we can’t afford to lose any of our top guys.
We’ll bring you some post match reaction from the game and some pictures capturing all the parts of tonight’s occasion.
You can see some pics from AFTN’s Flickr account from last night’s pre match press conference.
The game is on. Let’s hope it goes off with nothing to talk about except what went on actionwise on the pitch.
Then we can finally move on from this farce and look at what really matters for the remainder of the season – getting some pride back into the Club and landing the Cascadia Cup.
Mon the Caps.