By Andy Watson, Vikes Communications
VICTORIA, B.C. (ISN) – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the first ever CIS vs MLS meeting on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. at Centennial Stadium.
This is the first time a CIS and MLS team have faced one another, a testament to the improving quality of university soccer in Canada, says Vikes men’s soccer head coach and former national team and former Vancouver pro Bruce Wilson.
“The goal is to be competitive and to provide a special atmosphere for people,” Wilson said. “Fans will be coming out not only to see us but to see the Whitecaps and get a look at their squad before the season. I think we’ll have a very good turnout.”
Following the tilt on Feb. 19, head coach Martin Rennie’s Whitecaps FC squad will travel to Orlando, Florida, to continue their 2012 preseason training camp. Vancouver hosts First Kick versus Canadian rivals and MLS expansion club Montreal Impact at BC Place on Saturday, March 10.
“Victoria has a great soccer community, and the Vikes provide a fantastic experience on and off the pitch,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “Throughout the years, we have played a number of matches on Vancouver Island, but this will be the first time as a Major League Soccer side. We are looking forward to an exciting match.”
Tickets for the Victoria match on Feb. 19 can be purchased by phone at 250 721-8480 or online and they are priced as follows:
– Adults: $15
– Seniors/Students/Alumni: $10
– Youth (12 and under): $7
At least five Vikes have previously played professional soccer with Whitecaps FC. They include Jamie Lowery, Chris and Nico Craveiro, Geordie Lyall and Wilson. In fact, the Vikes head coach was an original member of the North American Soccer League Whitecaps, having played four seasons in Vancouver from 1974 to 1977.
Another tie to Whitecaps FC is the development of CIS tournament Most Valuable Player Cam Hundal of Surrey, B.C., who helped guide the Vikes to a national title on home soil this past November at Centennial Stadium. Hundal was part of the Whitecaps FC Prospects program in 2009 and 2010. This is a testament to the player development model Whitecaps FC prides itself on.
This is not the first time UVic has played Whitecaps FC, as the Vikes hosted Vancouver when the Whitecaps were a North American second division club in front of over 1,650 fans in 2010. The Feb. 19 friendly will be the first time an MLS club has faced a CIS team.
The Vikes will play their third and final game on their tour in Florida, currently boasting a 2-0 record with wins over Florida Atlantic (3-0) and an Under-20 Florida rep team from Boca Raton, the reigning state champion. After departing Feb. 7, the Vikes will arrive back in Victoria late in the day on Saturday, Feb. 18.