Bobby keeps his promise: MLS Whitecaps to visit UVic Vikes

The UVic Vikes and Whitecaps annual exhibition match was always fun, but the ante is up as the Whitecaps have gone MLS, and visit Feb. 19

Wes Barrett

Wes Barrett

They might be the Canadian university champs but you get the sense from coach Bruce Wilson that the UVic Vikes are in over their heads for this one.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, the Vancouver Whitecaps visit the Vikes men’s team at Centennial Stadium.

It’s the latest exhibition match between the two teams, an annual affair that saw the United Soccer League first division men’s Whitecaps and women’s Whitecaps visit UVic. But the tradition was in question when the Whitecaps franchise attained Major Soccer League status last season. In fact, Wilson said, Victoria can now count on an annual visit from the MLS Whitecaps.

“(Whitecaps president) Bobby (Lenarduzzi) and I are very good friends, and he did agree always to have a preseason team here,” Wilson said. “Last year he was very apologetic, but they didn’t want to open the Whitecaps preseason in B.C. Instead, they wanted the debut to be their first league game, which it was.”

The announcement is a coup for soccer fans in Victoria, who already have a top-level women’s team, the W-League Highlanders.

“This isn’t the old Whitecaps. This is a totally different level,” Wilson said.

“Bobby said they’ll be sending their first team, so it’s a little scary, full-time pros versus full time students. We hope that we’re competitive for the Whitecaps.”

The game also falls between major travel dates for both teams. The Vikes are in Florida for 10 days, playing three games in addition to warm-weather training, and return on Feb. 18. The Whitecaps leave for spring training in Florida on Feb. 20.

Tickets for adults are $15, available online at Tickets.uvic.ca, Worldofsoccer.ca, and Spankitsports.ca.

Game time is 1 p.m.