VANCOUVER, B.C – Major League Soccer unveiled the 2013 MLS schedule on Wednesday morning for all 19 teams. The season kicks off on Saturday, March 2, when 12 teams are in action across North America. The key matchup for Canadian soccer fans features the Vancouver Whitecaps playing host to Toronto FC at 3:30 P.M. PT. at BC Place Stadium. Vancouver previously hosted Toronto FC in their inaugural MLS game in 2011 and came away with a 4-2 victory at Empire Field.
On paper the Whitecaps will face a schedule that looks very travel friendly and extremely adaptable to their geographical location. The Whitecaps faced both a 5-game, and 4-game road trip last season that result in a combined, 1-7-1 record. This year the teams longest road trip is a pair of 3-games trips, with the first beginning in March. The Whitecaps will play at Houston March 23, at Chivas USA on March 30, and at San Jose on April 6. September will feature another 3-game trip that starts, at FC Dallas on September 7, at San Jose on September 14, and a lone meeting with the Montreal Impact on September 21.
Whitecaps Coach Martin Rennie had this to say about the teams 2013 schedule.
“We’re just excited to get the schedule, it makes the season seem a lot closer, and it looks like a balanced schedule, (with) lots of Saturdays which I think is important.”
“Ultimately we have to play everybody, and we have to do well in all the games that we play. Sometimes you can get too focused on home and away, and all that kind of stuff, but I think it is balanced. There’s not too many spells that we’re away for a long time. We’re fairly equal home and away, overall I think it’s very good.”
Highlights on the home schedule vs Western Conference rivals feature two visits from the defending 2012 MLS Champion LA Galaxy on May 11, and August 24. The Portland Timbers will visit Vancouver on May 18, and October 6. Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake take on the Whitecaps in Vancouver on April 13, and September 28. MLS bottom feeders, Chivas USA will look to upset the Whitecaps during their visits to Vancouver on June 19, and September 1st.
The Seattle Sounders will make their only visit to Vancouver on Saturday, July 6. The game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network at 8:00 P.M. PT. Whitecaps fans wanting to travel down Interstate-5 for some road games should mark down June 8, and October 9, because that’s when the Whitecaps will be playing at CenturyLink Field against the Sounders. The Whitecaps lone game in Portland will be on Saturday, May 18, at Jeld-Wen Field.
Besides playing Toronto FC on opening night the Whitecaps will see 4 other Eastern Conference teams that did not visit BC Place last season. This includes a meeting with the Columbus Crew on March 9, New England Revolution on June 15, Chicago Fire on July 14, and former Whitecaps Striker, Sebastien Le Toux and the Philadelphia Union on July 27. Whitecaps fans will not get to see the New York RedBulls, Houston Dynamo, DC United, Sporting KC, or the Montreal Impact at BC Place Stadium this season because those teams visited Vancouver last season.
The Whitecaps will play 27 games on Saturday, 4 on Sunday, and 3 games on Wednesday. The home games against Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders are the only home games that have a confirmed start time. All other home game times are TBD as the organization is waiting to confirm a television schedule, as well as the impending Vancouver Canucks NHL schedule.
Overall the Whitecaps have to be pleased with what the schedule maker brought them this season. Travel in MLS can be quite a grind for a team in the Pacific Northwest. Many players who have spent a majority of their career playing in Europe are used to travelling via bus or train to their next game instead of by air. The Whitecaps road schedule will also help older players like Y.P. Lee, Jay DeMerit, Andy O’Brien, Barry Robson, Kenny Miller, and Joe Cannon who may require an extra amount of rest during the season.
Vancouver Whitecaps 2013 schedule – http://www.whitecapsfc.com/schedule
Notes: The Vancouver Whitecaps players will be arriving in Vancouver on Sunday, January 20, for physicals, and the start of training camp. The Whitecaps will train in Arizona, and South Carolina before the season opener on March 2.