It's taken a while, but the Vancouver Whitecaps finally appear set to restart their 2020 MLS season.
The Whitecaps look to keep the San Jose Earthquakes winless when these sides meet on Wednesday night in group-stage play at the "MLS in Back Tournament" near Orlando, Fla.
Vancouver (1-1-0) was slated to be one of the first teams to return to action in the "bubble" of ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, but its opening match on Thursday was postponed after opponent FC Dallas had several players test positive for the coronavirus prior to the contest. Dallas ended up dropping out of the tournament, and the Whitecaps have been idle ever since.
Finally, though, it appears they will get their chance to hit the pitch.
"We prepare for right now because that's the only game we can win right now," Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster told the club's official website.
Though Schuster knows the Whitecaps are excited to return, there could be some understandable collective rust in their first match since March 7.
"For every team's first moment of coming back onto the pitch, coming back into the situation, to be stressed, to be in competition, to have an opponent there," he said, "they need a little bit of time to adjust to that again."
Vancouver, which is playing in Group B, opened the season with a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City, then rebounded with an impressive 1-0 road win over the Los Angeles Galaxy. Tosaint Ricketts' goal in the 74th minute was all the Whitecaps needed to take down the Galaxy.
The Whitecaps dropped both meetings with San Jose last season, but these Earthquakes (0-1-2) enter this contest still looking for that elusive first victory of 2020. San Jose earned a bit of a moral victory of sorts with a scoreless draw against reigning MLS champion Seattle in its return to play on Friday.
"You only have three games (in the group stage of the tournament), so every game is very important to win," midfielder Jackson Yueill told the Earthquakes' official website. "You have to be focused the whole 90 minutes, and you have to give it your all each play because it's a tournament. And, one mistake can take you out of the tournament."
Four different San Jose players have recorded goals in 2020, but star and MLS all-time goal leader Chris Wondolowski is not one of them. He's also yet to start a match this season. Wondolowski, though, has 13 goals in 24 career MLS games versus Vancouver, including one in each of the last two meetings.