Major League Soccer and the MLS Players Union reached an agreement on a new CBA late Wednesday, meaning Vancouver Whitecaps FC will open their 2015 MLS season on Saturday afternoon against Toronto FC – just as planned.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at BC Place – limited tickets are still available. You can watch the match live on TSN, Bell mobile devices and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TSN 1410 and tsnradiovancouver.ca, including a pre-game show at 1 p.m. PT and a two-hour post-match show.
A new season in the MLS
Whitecaps FC enter their fifth season in MLS with high hopes after a successful 2014 campaign, in which they qualified for the MLS Cup Playoffs, set a new club record with 50 points, and secured their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League berth as the top Canadian team.
The reason for optimism stems from the fact that last year’s core remains intact.
Twenty-two players are returning from 2014, which is a new club record in MLS, including captain and reigning MLS Newcomer of the Year Pedro Morales. But there were a few changes.
Among them, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson brought in three new centre backs and Young Designated Player striker Octavio Rivero, who scored a team-high three goals in six preseason appearances.
The ‘Caps enter First Kick undefeated in three matches after posting a 2W-0L-1D record at last week’s Simple Invitational in Portland.
“We have some real bite to us this year,” said Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert. “We can be a nasty team and play beautiful soccer at the same time so it’s kind of that beauty and beast thing going on.”
Up first: Toronto FC
For the second straight year, Toronto FC underwent a massive offseason overhaul.
Designated Players Jermaine Defoe and Gilberto are out, and Designated Players Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are in. Both players opened their account with goals in Toronto FC’s preseason finale – a 2-1 win over Costa Rica’s U-23 side.
“We welcome Toronto’s big boys in town,” Robinson told reporters on Thursday. “They made two additions this year, which were bigger than last year. But my young boys will be ready, without a doubt. We’ll be ready to meet the challenge full on. And we’ll show them what we can do.”
“Every team in this league has stars,” added Teibert. “We do too.”
While Altidore and Giovinco are the headliners, Toronto also brought in a pair of Frenchmen who they expect to make a big impact in centre back Damien Perquis and midfielder Benoit Cheyrou. The latter is expected to partner in central midfield with Designated Player Michael Bradley, who replaces Steven Caldwell as team captain heading into the 2015 season.
Last year, Toronto FC finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with 41 points and an 11W-15L-8D record.
Since joining MLS in 2011, the ‘Caps have posted a 2W-2L-1D record against their Eastern Canadian rivals in league play. Both of Vancouver’s wins came in their 2011 and 2013 home openers.
Last year, the two sides played to a 1-1 draw at BMO Field. They also met in the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal – Toronto FC advanced after winning the penalty shootout in a thrilling second leg at BC Place.
Did you know?
The ‘Caps are undefeated in their past 13 home openers dating back to 2002. That includes four straight wins in the MLS era.
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.