Vancouver, Toronto both feature Spanish stalwarts in the midfield as clubs meet on night that marks 40th anniversary of Caps’ Soccer Bowl championshipNEXT GAMEFridayToronto FC (5-6-2, 8th East) at Vancouver Whitecaps (4-6-5, 9th West)7 p.m., B.C. Place Stadium, TV: TSN; Radio: TSN 1040 AMKEY MATCHUPJon Erice vs. Alejandro PozueloThe Reds have a Maestro, the Caps have a Conductor. Both are adept at pulling the strings and dictating the game. Tonight’s meeting should be a classical concert between two wily midfielders, one adept at creating goals, the other at preventing them. Pozuelo leads TFC in scoring (5 goals, 6 assists) while Erice tops Vancouver in passes per game (52.9) and recoveries (77).
Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Jon Erice practises at B.C. Place ahead of their MLS season opener against Minnesota United in early March.
Jason Payne /
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH1. History deserves historyTonight’s game serves as the 40th anniversary celebration of the Whitecaps’ cherished 1979 Soccer Bowl win, and with the New York Cosmos and Tampa Bay Rowdies relegated to history (the original clubs, at least), TFC suitably serves as the foil. The Caps and Reds have played 86 times, with Vancouver holding a 39W-32L-15D all-time advantage.In MLS play, the Caps are 4-4-1, splitting four home games.Former Whitecaps coach Tony Waiters, who led the team to that 1979 NASL title and then took Canada to its only World Cup appearance in 1986, will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honour tonight.“It means a great deal to come into the Ring of Honour,” said Waiters. “To those people who have supported the team so well, thank you very much for this honour that I’m receiving. As a coach, you evaluate your own performance before anyone else evaluates you. Forty years later, they still remember what we accomplished as a team, and I hope that it happens again because this city means a heck of a lot to us.”
Head coach Tony Waiters of the 1979 Soccer Bowl champion Vancouver Whitecaps waves to fans on the team’s return to the West Coast on Sept. 9, 1979.
Colin Price /
2. Perturbed PozueloThe Reds’ newest DP star had a fast start to his MLS career, with four goals and five assists in four starts. But as MLS foes started kicking at his ankles and bodying him, he had just a goal and an assist in the next six, his frustration boiling over with two yellow cards against Real Salt Lake.Pozuelo, who signed a four-year deal that will cost TFC around $7.4 million per season once his reported $18.2 million salary and $11.3 million transfer fee to Belgian side Genk is spread out, probably benefited from missing last week’s game.“He came in fast, had an incredible start, which then ramps up the attention and everything else,” said coach Greg Vanney. “No matter who it is, everybody goes through a stretch where you have to adapt to the league. You start to learn refereeing, start to learn the physicality, get to know your teammates, the travel is tough. There are different facets that everybody goes through.“He’s gotten a good sample size of what the league is about. Catch his breath and then we start going again, a couple more games, and then we get a little break for the Gold Cup, which will serve him well, as we then look at the summer grind and the last part of the season.”Side note: Pozuelo was a teammate of current Whitecap Lass Bangoura on Rayo Vellecano for a season before moving on to Genk.
Toronto FC’s Alejandro Pozuelo in action during a May 11, 2019 MLS game against the visiting Philadelphia Union.
Frank Gunn /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
3. Divided loyaltiesTonight’s game will see seven Canadian and two American Gold Cup members play against and beside each other. Whitecaps Doneil Henry, Derek Cornelius, Russell Teibert and Maxime Crepeau were named to the 23-man roster released Thursday, along with Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio, Ashtone Morgan and Noble Okello. Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore were called up by the U.S.The two countries are in different groups of the tournament that runs from June 15 to July 7, but could face off in the knockout round.4. Caps, Reds both black and blueBoth sides are facing injury woes, with Henry being the biggest loss for Vancouver, while Bradley and Osorio are questionable, and Auro is likely to miss the game.Henry, the Caps’ key centre-back, leads MLS in interceptions (31) and is third in clearances (70) despite missing the past two games with a hamstring strain. Érik Godoy (16 blocks, 2nd MLS; 65 clearances, 4th MLS) will pick up the slack.Bradley, Toronto’s midfield powerhouse, has been bothered by a hamstring strain himself while Osorio is battling groin and hip issues. Neither is expected to play.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Doneil Henry, right, and Portland Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco vie for the ball during the first half of their MLS game in Vancouver on May 10, 2019.
DARRYL DYCK /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
5. End of trendsOne team is hot(ish), one is not. TFC is winless in five games (0-4-1), scoring just two goals in that span, and have picked up just seven out of 27 potential points in their last nine games after starting out with 10 points in four games.The Caps are unbeaten in three (1-0-2) and have just two losses in the past 10 games, mainly on the strength of a defence that’s given up just six goals from open play in that time.Vancouver has yet to beat an Eastern Conference team this season (0-2-3).Toronto comes in averaging 1.8 goals per game, second in the league, but that number is inflated by a hot start that saw them score 18 of their 23 in the first six games.PREDICTED STARTING XIsWHITECAPS (3-5-2)Montero — VenutoAdnan — Inbeom — Erice — Teibert — SutterCornelius — Rose — GodoyGoalkeeper: Crepeau
Toronto FC’s star striker Jozy Altidore moves up the field against the Columbus Crew during a 2017 MLS game.
Jack Boland /
Postmedia News files
TORONTO FC (3-5-2)Pozuelo — AltidoreLaryea — Morrow — Fraser — Delgado — DeLeonMavinga — Ciman — ZavaletaGoalkeeper: WestbergSICK BAYVancouver: (Out) Michael Baldisimo (left ankle contusion), Jasser Khmiri (left knee injury), David Norman Jr. (right foot surgery), Lass Bangoura (left hamstring strain), Doneil Henry (left hamstring injury); (Questionable) Yordy Reyna (left hamstring strain), Ali Adnan (groin injury).Toronto: (Out) Auro (hamstring injury); (Questionable) Michael Bradley (hamstring injury), Jonathan Osorio (hip/groin injuries)email@example.comCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.