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Whitecaps preparing for the unknown in CONCACAF Champions League game

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VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps are heading into the unknown as they prepare to face Central FC on Tuesday night in a CONCACAF Champions League match being played in Trinidad

and Tobago.

The Whitecaps know little about the type of game Central FC likes to play or the conditions of the pitch.

"We are going into the unknown a little bit," said Whitecaps' head coach Carl Robinson. "It will be a good experience for a lot of my players."

The Whitecaps are coming off a 2-0 loss on Sunday to FC Dallas in a Major League Soccer match played in blistering 40-degree heat in Frisco, Texas. Robinson will take 18 players for the game being played in Couva, a city in west-central Trinidad with a population of around 21,000.

Known as the Sharks, Central FC plays in the TT Pro League, the country's top division, where they have won back-to-back titles. They also have won the last two Caribbean Football Union Club Championships.

Kenwyne Jones, a former English Premier League striker and captain of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, has joined the Sharks. He has over 100 goals in his career, including 40 in the Premier League. Jones is on loan to Central FC and is expected to join the expansion Atlanta United FC when they make their MLS debut in 2017.

The 10,000-seat stadium where the match will be played was built in 2011 and was named after Ato Boldon, the former sprinter and four-time Olympic Games medallist.

Robinson said he isn't sure what to expect in the match.

"It's probably a more slower style," he said. "You have to deal with conditions, different temperatures. It will be an interesting game. We will concentrate on us and what we can do. We know it will be a difficult pitch."

Defender Jordan Harvey said the Whitecaps have the ability to adapt to different styles of play.

"That's the beauty of MLS, there is a style change week to week," he said. "Different teams play differently.

"When you play a team like (Central FC) I'm sure we will have seen that style in different forms throughout the season."

Goalkeeper David Ousted is confident the coaching staff will have the team properly prepared.

"We are playing a side we honestly don't know a lot about," he said. "Obviously the coaches will do their due diligence and put us in the best position to win that game."

The Whitecaps are sitting in the sixth and final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference with an 8-9-6 record. Vancouver hasn't scored in its last two MLS games and is 2-4-4 in the last eight.

"We have to hit form at some stage," said Robinson. "We have been a little bit to inconsistent this year.

"You're not going to win games if you make mistakes."

The Whitecap players not making the drip to Trinidad will travel to Houston where they will train for the rest of the week. Those playing in the CONCACAF match will return to Houston for a couple a couple of days of practice before the team travels to Colorado for a game against the Rapids Saturday.

Forward Giles Barnes, who the Whitecaps acquired Saturday from the Houston Dynamo will join the team in Dallas.

Central FC will play the Whitecaps Sept. 28 at BC Place Stadium.


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