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Whitecaps not taking lower-division Edmonton lightly in Amway Championship semi

VANCOUVER - If the Vancouver Whitecaps were taking their opponent lightly in the first game of the Amway Canadian Championships, FC Edmonton has their attention now.

The Whitecaps, who play in Major League Soccer, will take a one-goal lead into Wednesday's night second game of the semifinal at B.C. Place Stadium. FC Edmonton, which plays in the lower-division North American Soccer League, would like nothing better than to embarrass the Whitecaps on their home pitch.

"They have a lot more to gain than we do," said striker Tom Heinemann. "Clubs take advantage of that.

"I've been on the other side of the ball with clubs. We cherish the opportunity to play against MLS clubs and try and take it to them and beat them. As players, those guys want to be where we are. We have to stand up to that and acknowledge that and be prepared to fight."

The Whitecaps won the first match of the two-game, total-goal series last week with a 3-2 win in Edmonton. Vancouver opened the scoring but needed two goals, one on a dubious foul call, to take the victory.

Goalkeeper Brad Knighton said the Whitecaps don't want to be the Goliath to Edmonton's David.

"I would say it's a wake-up call," said Knighton. "It's a mentality. You are playing a lower division team and they don't deserve to be in MLS.

"No game in soccer is easy. You can see that all over Europe and in North America. You're not going to walk on the field and expect a win."

Knighton expects Edmonton to pull out all the stops in hopes of advancing to the tournament final against either Toronto FC or the Montreal Impact.

"They are going to kick and claw and scrap," he said. "It's going to be a dog fight. That's what those teams want. They don't want it to be pretty.

"Sometimes the game is not pretty. It's just the mentality of being able to put the ball in the back of the net and keep them from scoring goals."

Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said his team has a better taste of what Edmonton can dish out.

"We do need to defend better," said Rennie. "I think at times we were a little bit sloppy with our defending.

"We need to be putting them under pressure and really make sure of home-field advantage."

The Whitecaps game will be played across the street from Rogers Arena where the Vancouver Canucks will open the NHL playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.

Edmonton must win by two goals to advance, something coach Colin Miller, a former Whitecaps' assistant coach, believes is possible.

"This is a game we've been looking forward to for a while now," Miller said on FC Edmonton's website. "If the team plays as well as they did last week, I can't ask for anything more.

"Their attitude and work ethic leading up to this match has been superb."

Miller won't be on the sideline for the game. He was ejected for arguing with the referee late in the first leg.

Vancouver is looking to advance to the tournament final for the fifth time. Toronto takes a 2-0 lead over the Impact into the other semifinal being played at Montreal's Stade Saputo.

Away goals will serve as a tiebreaker if the score is tied after regulation time. If the teams are still deadlocked there will be two 15-minute periods of extra time followed by a penalty shootout.

The Whitecaps come into the match riding the momentum of battling back from a 2-0 deficit for a 2-2 draw against FC Dallas in an MLS game Saturday.

Rookie Kekuta Manneh, the Whitecaps first pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft, scored a goal in that game. The quick, agile winger said Vancouver needs to bring the same edge against Edmonton.

"We're not going to sit back," said the 18-year-old from Gambia. "We're just going to play our game.

"It is a really important game. We're going to give it our all."

Heinemann said the Whitecaps want to erase any doubt which is the superior team.

"We want to get a win, not a tie," he said. "If we can stay switched on and focused on the little things, and not let up in any sense, we will be all right."

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