WFC: Vancouver want to repeat history vs. Man. City

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps are looking forward to hosting FA Cup champions Manchester City on Monday (10 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge — and defending their unbeaten record against one of England’s top teams.

The NASL edition of the ‘Caps thrashed the Citizens 5-0 in 1980 before following that up with another 2-0 shutout victory a year later, and have yet to concede a goal, let alone lose a match, to the blue side of Manchester.

Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi was at the peak of his playing career during those days and scored one of the goals in that 5-0 rout at Empire Stadium three decades ago. The former Canadian international is thrilled to see the English club return to face the MLS edition of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“Man. City are the reigning FA Cup champions, so it’s a great opportunity for our fans to see a club of the stature of Man. City,” Lenarduzzi told Vancouver media via a conference call on Thursday. “That hasn’t happened since the days of the old North American Soccer League. It’s nice to get the quality of opposition that Man. City will bring with them.”

Manchester City are bringing a plethora of international stars to Vancouver, including World Cup winner David Silva, Ivory Coast international Yaya Touré, Italian striker Mario Balotelli and seven members of the English national team, including starting goalkeeper Joe Hart.

“I love the fact that it is preseason,” Lenarduzzi said. “There are times when clubs go on postseason tours and it’s more of a wind-down and an opportunity to socialize, take a break. … Players are playing for places [in preseason], and with such a great squad and international diversity, they can’t go through the motions. It’s going to be a very competitive match on Monday.”

The English club have just completed one of their most successful seasons in recent memory, finishing third in the English Premier League and winning the FA Cup, one of the most cherished trophies in world soccer.

Man. City are bringing the trophy with them and the Whitecaps are planning to use its presence for a pair of good causes. Fans will be able to take photographs with the trophy inside the North Gate for a small donation, with partial proceeds going to the Whitecaps Foundation and the “#DearVancouver: I Love You” initiative.

The Whitecaps Foundation aims to promote fitness among youth, while “#Dear Vancouver: I Love You” is raising money for businesses that experienced property damage and losses during last month’s Stanley Cup riots.

“We’re excited to be a part of that,” Lenarduzzi said. “We feel that it’s a great way to utilize the FA Cup being in our city to help in such a great way.”