Vancouver, BC (SportsNetwork.com) - Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC will kick off the 2015 season with a bang as the two sides will meet in an all- Canadian clash at BC Place on Saturday.
Toronto FC finds itself in a familiar position heading into the 2015 MLS season.
Like last term, the Reds, embarking on their ninth season in MLS, have welcomed a few new household names to the squad as they seek their first appearance in the postseason.
Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe joined the Canadian club ahead of the 2014 campaign to much fanfare, but the duo struggled to make a lasting impact on the pitch as Toronto finished seventh in the Eastern Conference with a losing record.
Bradley will return to the team for another crack at making history, but Defoe has departed after an inconsistent spell in MLS. The Englishman made the switch back to the Premier League in January to join Sunderland in exchange for United States international Jozy Altidore, a move that sees the former Red Bull New York striker return to MLS after plying his trade for over six years in Europe.
Toronto continued its penchant for offseason splashes by adding 28-year-old Italian striker Sebastian Giovinco as its third Designated Player. It was a heralded signing not only for Toronto, but also MLS as it highlighted the league's ability to lure quality players from Europe before they are deemed "over the hill."
Vancouver has taken a different approach to offseason moves, making low-key signings and embracing youth. It will be head coach Carl Robinson's job to get the most out of that youth.
Entering their fifth season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC has made a pair of playoff appearances, but each time they have reached the postseason it ended rather quickly with a defeat in the knockout round.
Last season was no exception as the club reached the postseason, but was knocked out by FC Dallas via a questionable penalty decision, which should leave Robinson's men with plenty of motivation for 2015.
The 'Caps boast a strong defense with a nice combination of veteran savvy and youthful energy which posted a league-best 13 clean sheets last season. Jordan Harvey will line up as the left back, while former San Jose Earthquake Steven Beitashour will patrol the right back spot in his second season in the pacific northwest.
In the midfield, the 'Caps boast a bevy of young, exciting talent, starting with attacking midfielder Pedro Morales.
Morales, 29, was signed as a designated player prior to the 2014 season, coming to MLS from La Liga side Malaga. He netted an impressive 10 goals and added 12 assists and was named the league's Newcomer of the Year for 2014.
Leading the line, the 'Caps brought in a new striker in Octavio Rivero, who comes to Vancouver from O'Higgins FC in the Chilean Premier Division as a Young Designated Player.
Rivero scored 10 goals in 18 appearances, and should reach at least that number this season. He'll get plenty of service from his wingers, it's just a matter of being able to finish the chances.