The Vancouver Whitecaps hope the way they start the 2021 MLS regular season isn’t the way they end it.
The Whitecaps will begin this season by playing a “home” match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah on April 18. They’re hopeful that by the time they play their regular season finale on November 7, that it’ll be at BC Place in Vancouver.
In fact, the Whitecaps are hopeful that many of their home matches will be in Vancouver this year, with fans in attendance — something that will depend on the success of the vaccine rollout in BC, and government restrictions due to the pandemic.
The Whitecaps released their 34-match regular season schedule today, trumpeting the fact that many of their home matches are backloaded. Seven of the team’s first 11 games will be played on the road, with the other four matches taking place at the Whitecaps’ temporary home in Sandy, Utah.
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That leaves 13 of the Whitecaps’ 17 home matches taking place on or after July 7, all of which are currently officially scheduled to take place at a location that is yet to be determined.
“Our players are excited to get back to competing on the pitch. The early schedule should allow us to see how our development is progressing with high-intensity tests versus some of our rivals,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC CEO and sporting director.
“The majority of our home games will be after June, so we remain hopeful that we will get to play in front of our fans at BC Place once it is safe to do so, as we continue to work closely with the government, health officials and MLS.”
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expects every adult in BC to have the opportunity to receive at least one dose of the vaccine by July, and that we may be in a “post-pandemic world by this summer.”
The Whitecaps played just four matches at BC Place in 2020, but only one in front of a home crowd, on February 29. Clearly, that’s the goal for the club when it’s safe to do so again, as they will continue to lose money until they’re able to sell tickets to matches.
Outside of single matches against Canadian rivals Toronto FC and CF Montreal, the Whitecaps will play the entirety of their schedule this season against Western Conference opponents. They will play their Cascadia rivals, the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders, three times each.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 24, 2021