by Ali Lee, Vikes Communications
(ISN) – VICTORIA, B.C. – The University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer team are pleased to announce the event details for their highly-anticipated annual match against Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC. On Feb. 15 the two teams will meet for the fourth-straight time and 10th overall with kick off set for 2:00 p.m. at UVic’s Centennial Stadium.
In his first season at the helm, head coach Carl Robinson led Whitecaps FC to their second MLS Cup playoff appearance in 2014. The ‘Caps set new team records for points (50), road points (18), and fewest defeats. The Blue and White also captured a second consecutive Cascadia Cup and qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in club history.
Entering their fifth season in MLS, Vancouver’s MLS roster features three Designated Players in Chilean attacking midfielder and captain Pedro Morales – 2014 MLS Newcomer of the Year – as well as defensive midfielder Matias Laba and new striker Octavio Rivero.
The ‘Caps also feature seven Homegrown Canadians, including Canadian men’s national team players Caleb Clarke and Russell Teibert, and recent Canadian U-20 men’s national team players Sam Adekugbe, Marco Bustos, Marco Carducci, and Kianz Froese.
Whitecaps FC will play the Vikes as part of their preseason preparations. Prior to their island visit, the ‘Caps will open preseason in Tucson, Arizona, taking part in the Desert Friendlies. The ‘Caps will have matches against New England Revolution on Feb. 4, San Jose Earthquakes on Feb. 7, and Houston Dynamo on Feb. 10. Following their match with the Vikes, the Blue and White will travel to Portland, Oregon for the Simple Invitational tournament. During their stay in Oregon, head coach Carl Robinson and his squad will face the host Portland Timbers on Feb. 22, Norwegian club Stabæk on Feb. 25, and fellow MLS rivals Chicago Fire on Feb. 28. The ‘Caps will kick off their 2015 MLS regular season on Mar. 7 against Toronto FC at BC Place in Vancouver.
The Vikes on the other hand will have a quick turnaround as just prior to the Whitecaps FC match up; the team will be in Florida for their post-season tour. The Vikes will return to Victoria less than 24 hours before they square off with the ‘Caps.
Vikes head coach Bruce Wilson is in his 27th season of patrolling the sidelines at Centennial Stadium. The former Whitecap and national team captain has a long-standing history in Canadian soccer and is always eager for this clash.
“This is an important event that my players and the island community looks forward to every year,” said Wilson. “It’s great to be able to showcase a CIS and MLS match up in Victoria and it is a unique experience and opportunity for our team to be able to compete at this level.”
In the 2014 season the Vikes posted an 8-1-3 conference record and had their CIS national championship hopes dashed in the Canada West semifinals after a 2-0 loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies. Despite not appearing at nationals, the Vikes had a highlight season with fifth-year forwardCameron Stokes finishing second in conference scoring with eight goals, going on to be named a Canada West First Team All-Star alongside defender Alex Redpath, midfielder Cam Hundal and keeper Noah Pawlowski. Pawlowski was further honoured as a CIS First Team All-Canadian after posting four shutouts and a save percentage of 80 per cent throughout the regular season.
Eight Vikes will have their final test against the Whitecaps FC as 2015 will be their final year either in school or eligibility. This includes Craig Taylor, Spencer McKinnon, Adam Plantinga, Dominic Colantonio, Aaron Murphy, Rhyse Harnden, Redpath and Stokes.
Many Vikes have previously played professional soccer with Whitecaps FC including Jamie Lowery, Chris and Nico Craveiro, Geordie Lyall and current UVic men’s soccer head coach Bruce 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.
Last year, Whitecaps FC defeated the Vikes 1-0 at Centennial Stadium. Since 2005, Vancouver holds the edge with a 7W-1L-1D record against UVic.
The two teams will meet in a Sunday matinee, 2:00 p.m., at Centennial Stadium. Gates will open at 12:00 p.m. and fans will have the unique opportunity to meet and greet with members of Whitecaps FC from 12:00-12:30 p.m. at the stadium.