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Spectators are seen through a banner prior to the Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday March 19, 2011.

Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/ The Canadian Press

It wasn't exactly the year diehard Vancouver soccer fans wanted: Finally we got an MLS team, and they finished dead last.

Still, hope springs eternal – perhaps nowhere more than in the blue and white-toting fans, who landed the Whitecaps third in the league for attendance.

And team president Bob Lenarduzzi expects they could be richly rewarded this season, what with the addition of South Korea's Young-Pyo Lee – who has been to the World Cup three times – and top scorer Sébastian Le Toux, as well as coach Martin Rennie, known for impressive team turnarounds.

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"We're not looking to go from the basement to the top in one season. It would be wonderful if that happened, but we hope we have an upward trend," says Lendarduzzi, who points to promising pre-season results. "We think the playoffs are a realistic objective for us – and if things go well, the sky's the limit."

The team also gets to kick off the season in its new home, BC Place, which is being transformed into a 21,000-seat venue for the Whitecaps games, giving it a more intimate feel – not to mention a roof overhead.

So how will Lenarduzzi feel when his team hits the pitch on Saturday? "I don't feel any differently now than I did in my first year as a player," he enthuses. "I love the feeling of the butterflies and the anxiousness that comes with the start of the season; and hopefully when it's all over and done with, we're basking in a win."

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC kick off their season against the Montreal Impact at BC Place on Saturday (whitecapsfc.com).

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