CENTRAL FC vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
ATO BOLDON STADIUM, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago
August 2, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
8 pm ET (UDN)
The Vancouver Whitecaps open CONCACAF Champions League play with the longest road trip for any MLS team in the group stage: More than 4,400 miles from British Columbia to Couva, Trinidad and Tobago, where the 'Caps face Central FC on Tuesday night at Ato Boldon Stadium in the group stage opener for both sides. Mindful of their busy schedule, Vancouver called up four players from their USL team on short-term contracts for this trip to the Caribbean: goalkeeper Spencer Richey, centre back Sem de Wit, left back Brett Levis, and forward Kyle Greig.
A long wait to claim the prize
In the past, winners of the Amway Canadian Championship entered CONCACAF Champions league play in the same calendar year as their national title victory. But beginning with the 2015 Voyageurs Cup, winners must now wait until the following year to take part in the international tournament. Vancouver took last year's title with a 4-2 aggregate victory over the Montreal Impact, winning the home leg 2-0 (with Montreal reduced to 10 men in the 30th minute) after a 2-2 draw in the opening leg.
Newish Kids on the Block
Vancouver will be making their second appearance in CCL play, having taken part in last year's edition but failing to advance out of group play. They entered MLS as an expansion side in 2011, but the second-division incarnation of the club that operated from 1986 to 2010 played in the 2008-10 Canadian Championships.
Central FC, meanwhile, have only been in existence since 2012, but have already won two TT Pro League titles and two CFU Club Cups, the Caribbean Football Union's qualifying tournament for CCL. The Sharks beat fellow T&T side W Connection 3-0 for the title on May 1. One of their players was a surprise star in last year's Gold Cup, and another shares a name with an iconic English pop singer. Curious? Learn more via the Whitecaps' "Know Thy Enemy" post.
Central's MLS connection
Central forward Kenwyne Jones is one to watch in this CCL group, though reports emerged this week that he won't feature in Tuesday's opener. You'll be seeing the Trinidad and Tobago captain next year in MLS, when Atlanta United begin their inaugural season in the league. The 31-year-old Jones, who spent the previous 12 seasons with a succession of English clubs, signed with Atlanta earlier this year and was then loaned to the TT Pro League champions. On Tuesday the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that his international paperwork is still being completed, however, ruling him out for the Whitecaps' visit.