VANCOUVER, B.C. — For the Vancouver Whitecaps, Monday’s World Football Challenge matchup against Manchester City (10 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) offers a chance to create lasting memories for fans and players alike.
“Manchester City are one of the higher-profile teams in the world now and they’ve got great players which will be on display,” Whitecaps defender Wes Knight told MLSsoccer.com following a press conference on Sunday evening. “In San Francisco, they played well [against Club América]. Scoring two goals and conceding none is always a great victory, and I’m sure they want to keep that rolling through preseason.”
With a plethora of world-class attacking talent, such as England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, World Cup winner David Silva and Italian striker Mario Balotelli, the ‘Caps will have to try and maintain possession as much as possible to give themselves a fighting chance at a major upset.
“They’re a very skillful team and they’ve been together for a few years and won an FA Cup,” goalkeeper Jay Nolly said. “Now they’re going to the Champions League, so they’ll be a tough team to play against. We just need to keep focused on what we’re trying to do. Continue to try and possess the ball and get up the wings. If we get away from that, it won’t help us away to San Jose on Wednesday.”
Matches against elite teams are occasions to savor, and for Nolly, it brings back memories from his time at Real Salt Lake, when he went head to head with Real Madrid in 2006.
“I stopped Robinho on a breakaway, saved a [David] Beckham free kick, and got scored on by Robinho on a breakaway,” Nolly said with a smile. “[Playing Manchester City] is huge for us and huge for the city. It’s something you look back on when you’re done [your career] and really relish those moments.”
Captain Jay DeMerit is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at the match, having played against many of Manchester City’s squad through his Premier League and international career. However, because of his ongoing adductor injury, he won’t play a part in the match.
“It shouldn’t be hard for guys to get up for games like this,” DeMerit said. “To stand in the tunnel with some of the best players in the world and get an opportunity to play against them and really test yourself is a fantastic thing to get excited about. Hopefully the guys can understand that these things don’t happen every day, and enjoy every moment. These are games they’ll talk about for the rest of their lives.”