The Vancouver Whitecaps kick-off the 2016 MLS season on Sunday with a home game against the Montreal Impact. Here’s five reasons why you should be excited about this!
The home opener for the Whitecaps at BC Place is always a fun event, but there’s also pretty good odds that you’ll go home celebrating a Whitecaps victory on Sunday. Since 2002 the ‘Caps have only lost once on opening day and that was last year when they fell by a score of 3-1 to rivals Toronto FC. That’s the game that produced arguably the best photo in MLS history.
— Geoff Sheppard (@geoffsheppard) March 9, 2015
— Residualimage (@residualimage) March 1, 2016
Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson has continually strengthened his squad by searching the globe for the players that will seamlessly integrate into the team both on and off the pitch. What is sometimes overlooked, however, is that the Whitecaps have been doing an excellent job developing their own players here at home.
Over the years the Caps have invested significantly in their youth system, and we’re starting to see the system bear fruit. While players including Sam Adekugbe, Marco Bustos, and Kianz Froese may be names familiar only to the hardest of the hardcore fans, these are young players who have already played for and made an impact for the Whitecaps’ first team.
With the Whitecaps having to contend with cumbersome roster rules that dictate a finite number of international players, the club will have to continue to develop top quality homegrown players. The Whitecaps will play in three competitions in 2016 (MLS, CONCACAF Champion’s League and the Voyageur’s Cup), so there will be plenty of opportunities for the Canadian lads to get in on the action.
— Daily Hive Vancouver (@VancityBuzz) January 7, 2016
The physical style of play on the pitch coupled with an exhausting amount of travel makes Major League Soccer a demanding workplace for a player. Perhaps no one has made the transition better in recent times than Uruguayan winger Cristian ‘El Bicho’ (The Bug) Techera, who joined the Whitecaps on a season-long loan in April 2015.
Techera made an almost instant impact for his new club, and quickly established himself as a fan favourite finishing an abbreviated 2015 season with 7 goals and 5 assists. Techera was so impressive that many were calling for the Whitecaps to make his loan deal a permanent transfer before the season had even finished.
This past January the transfer from Club Atlético River Plate Montevideo was finalized, and Techera signed a multi-year deal to stay in Vancouver.
— Matias Laba (@matiaslaba) February 5, 2016
The Whitecaps have one Major League Soccer’s best defensive midfielder in 24-year-old Argentine Matías Laba, who they snapped up from Toronto FC before the start of the 2014 season.
Laba, who plays in a position in front of a defensive backline featuring Costa Rican centre back Kendall Waston, was a key player for a Whitecaps team who conceded a MLS low of 36 goals allowed in 2015.
Simply put: if Laba has a good game (and he usually does), then so do the Whitecaps.
Regardless if you’re one of the boisterous supporters who sing, chant and wave flags for the entire match or not, there is little argument that the atmosphere inside BC Place stadium for a Whitecaps match is second to none.
So grab your scarf, paint your face and make sure you’re there when the Whitecaps kick off the 2016 season against the Montreal Impact on Sunday at 2.30pm. You may even catch a line or two of “Boundary Road” floating through the streets of Vancouver as you head to the stadium.