Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vancouver Whitecaps - Cleveland City Stars live blog

I'll be live-blogging tonight's USL-1 contest between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Cleveland City Stars. It should be an interesting one, as the Whitecaps seek to rebound from both watching the Voyageurs Cup slip away in front of their eyes and then throwing away their chance at revenge on a revitalized Montreal Impact side.

The Whitecaps enter tonight's with a 4-5-2 record through 11 games, putting them eighth out of the 11 teams in the USL-1 table. They do have a couple games in hand on many of the clubs above them, but they'll need to start making a run soon if they hope to defend their USL-1 title this season. Of course, it's not going to be easy. Key striker Charles Gbeke and central defender Wesley Charles will sit out this one thanks to the suspensions [Simon Fudge, whitecapsfc.com] they received following their punch-up a while back. Defenders Jeff Parke and Geordie Lyall and wingers Ansu Toure and Justin Moose will also miss this one thanks to injury.

Cleveland also needs to turn their season around. They're a new USL-1 side, and won the USL-2 title last year in only their second season of existence. Head coach Martin Rennie left after last season for the Carolina Railhawks, though, and that's proved to be a good move for him; Carolina's tied for second in the table with a 7-3-3 record, while Cleveland's second from the bottom with a 2-9-2 record. They do have some faces that will be recognizable to Canadian fans, including former Trinity Western University player and Whitecaps reserve Paul Ballard and former Montreal Impact midfielder Pato Aguilera, who leads the team with seven points from one goal and five assists. They also will have the home-field advantage of playing on FieldTurf at the oddly-named Middlefield Cheese Stadium, which may be a difficult adjustment for the Whitecaps. It should be an interesting one to watch. The game is on USL Live tonight, and the live blog will start at 7 p.m. Eastern. Come join in the fun then!

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