WFC Preview: Rested Vancouver host Manchester City
Manchester City look to continue their winning ways in their second match of the Herbalife World Football Challenge on Monday against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Empire Field. (10 pm ET; ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
The Citizens looked comfortable in their first match of preseason against Club América on Saturday evening at AT&T Park in San Francisco, defeating the Mexican side 2-0 through goals from Ryan McGivern and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The Vancouver Whitecaps, for their part, will be raring to go, having had their scheduled Saturday match against Real Salt Lake postponed due to heavy rain, and will be hoping to maintain their unbeaten record against the blue side of Manchester.
For Vancouver, this match represents a chance to demonstrate that they are better than their Major League Soccer record indicates. Soccer is littered with underdog stories and if the Whitecaps can sneak a victory, even in a friendly match, just try telling any of the players on either team the game meant nothing.
The match is also a wonderful occasion for MLS’s first African Designated Player to make his Whitecaps debut – and on his birthday no less. Mustapha Jarju turns 25 on Monday, and ‘Caps fans will be hoping to see his talent firsthand against some of the world’s top stars. Left fullback Jordan Harvey will also play in front of the Empire Field faithful for the first time since arriving from the Philadelphia Union.
In terms of points or trophies, this match may look a mere spectacle, but for a young expansion side, games against elite players are invaluable education tools. For young players like Omar Salgado, Russell Teibert and Jeb Brovsky, among others, facing up against the FA Cup champions is a great test and a tremendous learning experience.
Manager Roberto Mancini enjoyed an exceptional season with Manchester City last campaign, culminating in an FA Cup championship win over Stoke City at Wembley Stadium.
The former Italian international will be looking at this match as a key part of his preseason preparations for the English Premier League and Champions League campaigns ahead, and as an opportunity to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of his current squad.
As one of the wealthiest clubs in world soccer, Manchester City will have a few new arrivals on show. Fullbacks Gaël Clichy, formerly of Arsenal, and Stefan Savić, freshly acquired from FK Partizan, provided an attacking threat from the flanks on their first appearances for their new team against Club América, and will look to do the same in Vancouver.
But perhaps it will be the tried and trusted City players that are most likely to catch the eye of Vancouver fans. Italian striker Mario Balotelli and World Cup winning Spanish midfielder David Silva played no part on Saturday nursing an illness and a slight knee bother, respectively, but they could be in line for minutes at Empire Field as they seek match fitness ahead of the coming campaign.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Davide Chiumiento
When playing against world-class opposition, maintaining possession is absolutely vital. Chiumiento’s ability to get on the ball, keep it when necessary, and create chances for his teammates at important moments will give the ‘Caps a chance to score goals.
Manchester City: David Silva
The midfielder has helped his native Spain win the European Championship and the World Cup, and played 90 minutes in the final as Manchester City won their fifth FA Cup trophy. Silva's intelligence, creativity and guile have the potential to give the Whitecaps defense nightmares if he is allowed too much time and space to operate.