As they often say, the battle is won but the war is not over.
Just four days after a resounding 3-0 statement win in front of 53,125 in enemy territory, the setting shifts north to BC Place on Wednesday as long-time Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Seattle Sounders FC clash again, this time in their opening match of the CONCACAF Champions League.
Head coach Carl Robinson issued somewhat of a call to arms to the Whitecaps FC faithful after Saturday’s battle, realizing the importance of what’s ahead.
“We played very well [on Saturday] and won the game so we’ll enjoy it, but get back to work because we’ve got another huge game against Seattle on Wednesday. We need to try and get as many fans out as we can – Vancouverites – to put them under pressure because [CenturyLink Field] is a hostile place. It’s tough to play.”
Match Day: Wednesday, August 5
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver
TV: Sportsnet World, Sportsnet One
Radio: TSN 1410
It’s hard to encapsulate the gravity of this milestone matchup, but we’ll try to do it justice by letting the facts speak for themselves.
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League is the most prestigious international club competition in this corner of the globe and the ‘Caps are in it for a reason.
By qualifying for the CCL as the top-ranked Canadian side in the MLS standings last year, the ‘Caps put their name in the conversation among the region’s best.
Whitecaps FC break into new territory on Wednesday, serving as testament to how far the club has developed and the new heights they have reached.
“We’re here because we’ve had success to get here,” said Whitecaps FC President Bob Lenarduzzi said.
Now that the ‘Caps are here, it’s time to prove they belong as they size themselves up against other championship-quality clubs.
To top it all off, it’s an old foe that stands in their way. It’s safe to say that everything is at play.
With the jam-packed August schedule that includes eight matches over four weeks in three different competitions, squad depth is paramount to the team’s success in such a pivotal point of the club’s history.
A mere four days removed from an emotion-filled contest, head coach Carl Robinson is faced with decisions on how to rotate his roster. He had already mentioned that he’s laid out his lineups for each of the club’s eight matches for the month.
Two of the team’s key cogs came off the bench as late substitutes in Seattle over the weekend and will have fresh legs if called upon.
Pedro Morales, who played 18 minutes in his second appearance after a five-week absence, could be tabbed to provide stability to what is expected to be a young Vancouver side as the captain works his way back to full form.
Darren Mattocks, fresh off a 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup performance where he proved that he shines brightest when the spotlight is hottest, may be tabbed to provide the spark on offence. Big-time games call for big-time players, and you can tell that the speedy Jamaican is chomping at the bit.
Many expect Robinson to field a lineup similar to the XI that took to the pitch in the Amway Canadian Championship quarterfinal against FC Edmonton in May.
Besides having gone through a pressure situation on the road to book a ticket to the ACC final, the young ‘Caps have been staying sharp not just at training, but lacing up for Whitecaps FC 2 in USL as well.
There is no greater example of the strides this young group has made than Tim Parker and Christian Dean, who have shown that their WFC2 experience translates to game-readiness for first team action. Entering the hostile Providence Park environment in Portland on July 18 with a combined five MLS starts, the young centre back duo were thrust into the limelight and delivered an outstanding performance to earn a crucial 1-1 draw for the ‘Caps.
Goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, who started both of the ACC semifinal legs, has also kept sharp in USL play and may be looked upon to face the Sounders FC attack in case MLS All-Star David Ousted needs a spell.