Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to the pitch tonight for the first match of consequence of 2017, as they begin the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against the Red Bulls in New York.
The Whitecaps enter the knockout stage as the first seed, after they went a perfect 4-0 during the group stage last year.
The second leg will be played at BC Place on March 2.
If Vancouver can get past the Red Bulls, they will play the winner of a pair of Mexican sides: Club Universidad Nacional or Tigres UANL.
While tonight’s match is only available for viewing on Facebook Live through CONCACAF, TSN 1040 shared some good news with regards to their new MLS radio deal.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) February 22, 2017
We don’t know who will call the games yet, given that Peter Schaad was let go last month. Stay tuned on that one.
Whether many people listen to Whitecaps play-by-play on the radio or not, this is good news for the club. Having a presence on Vancouver’s all-sports radio is key for keeping it in the consciousness of their daytime shows, which bring in more listeners.
The Whitecaps enter this season with very little fanfare and lower expectations (at least by those that follow the team) than last year.
They’ll will want to hit the ground running, as they had perhaps their most disappointing season since entering MLS back in 2011. They entered 2016 as contenders, but wound up missing the playoffs.
DP striker Octavio Rivero moved on in July, while the team declined the option on captain Pedro Morales in November.
So what can we expect from the 2017 Vancouver Whitecaps?
Well, the club will be hoping for a bounce-back season for a number of players. The team had trouble scoring goals in 2015, but were very strong defensively. They’ll try to get back to that this year with better years from Kendall Waston and David Ousted.
Alphonso Davies, who’s now the ripe old age of 16, should figure more prominently this season as well.
Let’s meet the new guys.
Where he came from: Tianjin Teda (Chinese Super League)
What he’ll bring: Goals (please?)
The Whitecaps saved their biggest and most important offseason signing for last.
Fredy Montero is a proven MLS goal scorer, and after stints in Colombia, Spain, and China, the 29-year-old is poised to give Whitecaps fans the striker they’ve been waiting for.
Montero is on loan, so it remains to be seen how long he’ll be here for, but hopefully he’ll provide stability at the striker position for at least one season.
Where he came from: FC Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)
What he’ll bring: A fractured foot
Whitecaps supporters will need to wait a while before they see Yordy Reyna in action with the club. The man nicknamed ‘Magic’ underwent successful surgery on Tuesday for a fracture of his left foot that he injured in Vancouver’s final preseason game in Portland.
Reyna is expected to return in the summer, where he should provide some creativity to their attack.
Position: Right back
Where he came from: Houston Dynamo (MLS)
What he’ll bring: Stability
Head coach Carl Robinson will hope that Sheanon Williams can patch up the hole in his back line, as experiments with Fraser Aird and Jordan Smith didn’t work in 2016.
Williams comes with a proven track record in MLS, and should provide a stabilizing force on the right side of the ‘Caps defensive line.