'Caps get nostalgic during prep for FC Dallas

Atiba Harris, Vancouver Whitecaps

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BURNABY, B.C. – There was a feeling of nostalgia for Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Thursday, when the team trained at Swangard Stadium for the first time  since 14 players on the current roster called the Burnaby stadium home when they played with the ‘Caps D-2 squad.

The 5,000-seat venue holds a special place in the heart of goalkeeper Jay Nolly, as he backstopped the club to the 2008 USL First Division championship in 2008. That was also the first year in Vancouver for head coach Teitur Thordarson and goalkeeper coach Mike Salmon.

“It’s nice to be back at Swangard,” Nolly said. “A lot of fond memories here.”

But the nostalgia this week wasn’t only limited to the stadium. Preparing to face FC Dallas at Empire Stadium this weekend, Atiba Harris and Blake Wagner get set to face their former team.

Wagner spent the first four years of his professional career in Dallas, and Harris played a key role for FC Dallas last season, contributing four goals on the season and starting all but one of his 29 appearances while shifting around from winger to attacking midfielder to striker.

“I enjoyed the season last year and my time in Dallas,” Harris said. “It was great soccer there, and unfortunately we didn’t win the last game.”

That last game, of course, was the 2010 MLS Cup final in Toronto. After going on an MLS record 19-game unbeaten streak during the regular season, Dallas carried their strong play into the postseason. However, things were not to be as they were downed 2-1 in extra-time against an equally in-form Colorado Rapids team.

In playing with the MLS Cup finalists last year, Harris teamed up with 2010 MLS MVP David Ferreira.

“He’s fantastic, everything goes through him,” said Harris. “He just makes things happen. He’s one of a kind and if he gets space he can cause us some trouble.”

FC Dallas have started the season off slowly so far, gaining only four points in their first five matches. Harris, though, endured a similarly slow start with them last year and feels that they’ll turn things around.

“I’m not really surprised,” said Harris. “I think the last couple of seasons it was the same thing, but they’re going to pick it up and get points. They’ve been playing good soccer and things will start going their way, but hopefully it doesn’t start this weekend.”