Wanted: Trophy

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 7:36 AM ET

The pressure is on the Vancouver Whitecaps to end a 14-year championship drought in the 20th season of pro soccer at Swangard Stadium.

Whitecaps debuted in 1987 as the 86ers and won four consecutive Canadian Soccer League titles before 1992's switch to the American Professional Soccer League.

Consistent goal-scoring is required to return soccer glory to Kingsway and Boundary.

The quest begins tomorrow night when Vancouver kicks off the United Soccer League's First Division season against the visiting Portland Timbers (7 p.m., MOJO).

"We had streaks last year where we were good at putting the goals in and streaks where we dried up," said head coach Bob Lilley, the two-time coach of the year entering his second season with Vancouver.

Most valuable player Jason Jordan netted a league-best 17 goals, but the third-place club coasted to a 12-7-9 finish with only one goal in its final four games.

Whitecaps were eliminated on penalty kicks after a scoreless two-game playoff with Virginia's Richmond Kickers.

Congo-native Sita-Taty Matondo and ex-Puerto Rico Islander Corey Woolfolk join Jordan and sophomore Joey Gjertsen to give Lilley a deep and dynamic attack. Cuban-born Eduardo Sebrango reports after the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs.

"The expectations are always there, it's just the attention to detail come end of August, start of September that we have to focus on," said captain Jeff Clarke.

The roster boasts four new defenders and midfielders, and new number one goalkeeper Tony Caig. Josh Wicks replaces the released Mike Franks until Caig, Newcastle United's third-string netminder, finishes the English Premier League in early May.

"I think we've made a number of good signings and we've blended them with a very strong core group from last year," Lilley said.

Whitecaps host defending champion and perennial rival Seattle Sounders twice, but the season's early highlight should be June 9.

That's when Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning stars Zinho and Romario visit with Miami FC.


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