Whitecaps in driver’s seat vs. Edmonton

May 9, 2012, 2:10 PM

The match

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

Date and Location

Wednesday May 9 at 8 p.m. PT, Vancouver’s BC Place

Broadcast details
The game will air live on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Pacific, starting at 9 p.m. MT / 8 p.m. PT.

Setting the scene

Winning the Canadian Championship is a priority for the Whitecaps this year, especially after being bridesmaids for so long.

Vancouver heads into the second-leg semifinal in the driver’s seat after winning the opener 2-0 in Edmonton. All they have to do Wednesday is earn a draw and they’ll be off to the final. Even a 1-0 loss would see them go through on the away goals rule.

Despite having the overwhelming advantage and playing a side that competes in the second-tier NASL, one division below MLS, the Whitecaps insist they are not taking Edmonton lightly.

“It’s a really important game — it’s a semifinal,” midfielder Davide Chiumiento told the Canadian Press. “Everybody thinks, yeah, they are easy games, but they are really difficult.”

Still, by all rights, the Whitecaps should brush aside Edmonton in this second leg, even with their “B team.”

With an MLS match on Saturday coming up, coach Martin Rennie is expected to hold back some regular starters and give playing time to players on the fringes of the starting lineup, including Chiumiento and fellow midfielder John Thorrington, defender Michael Boxall and Canadian Russell Teibert.

News and notes

Backup goalkeeper Brad Knighton is expected to start in goal for Vancouver after he played in the opening leg… Striker Darren Mattocks, who has missed the entire MLS season recovering from burns, could see action for the Whitecaps on Wednesday… 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. The first leg between TFC and the Impact ended 0-0 in Montreal last week.

Player to watch for Vancouver

Davide Chiumiento: He hasn’t been getting much playing time in MLS, so look for the creative midfielder to make the most of his opportunity as a starter against Edmonton.

Player to watch for Edmonton

Shaun Saiko: The 22-year-old midfielder scored a hat trick in Edmonton’s 3-0 win over the Carolina RailHawks in NASL play on the weekend.

Key matchup

Kyle Porter vs. Brad Knighton: Porter is one of Edmonton’s most dangerous forwards, and it’ll be up to him to supply the team with its offensive drive. Standing in his way will be Knighton, who has a point to prove in a rare start for the Whitecaps.

The Vancouver perspective

““It’s not an easy game. … I used to play in the USL so I know what it (is like) when you play against a higher-division team.” – forward Sebastien Le Toux said.

The Edmonton perspective

“We go into it like any other game. We want to win. We know we’re down two goals but we’re just going to go in and not give up any more and hopefully score.” – defender Paul Hamilton told the Vancouver Province newspaper.

What’s next

Vancouver returns to MLS action on Saturday when it visits the New England Revolution. Edmonton visits the Atlanta Silverbacks in NASL play on the same day.

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