Whitecaps not taking Edmonton lightly

May 2, 2012, 3:54 PM

The match

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. FC Edmonton, Amway Canadian Championship, first leg of semifinals

Date and Location

Wednesday May 2 at 8 p.m. MT, Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium

Broadcast details
The game will air live on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Pacific starting at 8 p.m. MT / 7 p.m. PT.

Setting the scene

We’ve seen this story before, haven’t we?

It wasn’t that long ago that the Whitecaps competed in the NASL and played David to Toronto FC’s Goliath in this competition.

Now the Whitecaps are in MLS and they face the prospect of taking on the NASL’s FC Edmonton. And on paper this is a bit of a mismatch.

Edmonton sits in last place in the second-tier NASL with just one point from its first four matches of the season. Vancouver, on the other hand, is flying high with a 4-2-2 record and sitting in third place in MLS’ Western Conference.

Despite the disparity in class between the two sides, the Whitecaps insist they are not taking their opponents lightly.

“We can’t go into Edmonton and think, ‘Oh, they’re in a lower division,’ because they have guys that have played in MLS before,” forward Atiba Harris told the Vancouver Province.

“We have to approach it right. The end result is to win the tournament and they’re standing in our way, so we have to go in there and win.”

According to Edmonton midfielder Paul Hamilton, the pressure is on the Whitecaps, and that’s something the Alberta club plans to use to its advantage.

“Whenever you play a team from a higher division, you’re the underdog, but that just means we have something to prove,” Hamilton told the Edmonton Journal.

“We have nothing to lose … but we don’t look at it like that. We look at it like it’s just another game. We’re going to play the way we want to play and, hopefully, we’ll get the win.”

News and notes

Wednesday marks the first ever match between these two sides… The second leg of this series is scheduled for next Wednesday at Vancouver’s BC Place… Midfielder Kyle Yamada (lower body injury) is out for Edmonton, while defender Adam West (hamstring is questionable)… The Whitecaps have never won this tournament, and have finished runners-up to Toronto FC the past three years. FC Edmonton lost to TFC in last year’s semifinals, marking their tournament debut… The winner of this series moves on to the two-legged final where it will meet the winner of the other semifinal between the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC on May 16 and 23.

Player to watch for Vancouver

Eric Hassli: The Frenchman hasn’t scored in seven MLS matches this season. It’ll be interesting to see if he starts against Edmonton and whether or not he’ll be able to break out of his scoring funk.

Player to watch for Edmonton

Kyle Porter: The 22-year-old forward from Mississauga, Ont., was a former member of the Whitecaps’ residency program but contract problems prevented him from signing with the senior side. He’s love to score against his old team.

Key matchup

Brad Knighton vs. Porter: Knighton is expected to make his season debut for the Whitecaps, starting in place of regular goalkeeper Joe Cannon. Porter will try to test him early and pepper him with as many shots as possible.

The Vancouver perspective

“We’ll just treat this like any other game. It’s just the same for us. It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re ready for it, but we’re not going to take them lightly or think we’re better than anybody. — coach Martin Rennie

The Edmonton perspective

“We’re going to embrace it, anything can happen. … We’re confident and we know we have nothing to lose. We’re going to bring the game to Vancouver instead of waiting and letting them bring it to us. — forward Kyle Porter told the Vancouver Province

What’s next

Toronto returns to MLS action on Saturday when it hosts the San Jose Earthquakes. Edmonton’s next NASL match is Sunday when it hosts the Carolina RailHawks.

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