New York City Football Club host Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday afternoon.
Hi Samuel, thanks for speaking with us. How long have you been covering the Vancouver Whitecaps?
This is my sixth season covering the team. There have been a fair share of ups and downs for the team over that period, but it’s encouraging that the Whitecaps appear to be moving in the right direction.
What has been your highlight in that time?
I would definitely say Vancouver winning back-to-back Canadian Championships (Voyageurs Cup) over the past two seasons. While it might not have a lot of notoriety outside Canada, the competition is very important to the clubs in our country, especially as it has widened with the introduction of Canadian Premier League and League 1 teams. Historically, Vancouver has been in the shadow of Toronto FC and CF Montreal in the competition, so it has been nice to see the West Coast dominate for once.
What are your thoughts on the team’s start to the season?
There’s about as much excitement around this team as there’s been in the last 5 or 6 years. Ryan Gauld and Brian White have provided a constant goal-scoring threat, while adding Canadian Internationals Sam Adekugbe and Richie Laryea over the last month has really boosted this team’s public profile and the depth of quality in the squad. Vancouver can score with the best teams in MLS, they just need to hold things together defensively and avoid individual errors, as well as playing a bit better on the road, much like they’ve done so far this week with two road wins.
What are your hopes for the 2023 season?
From the beginning of the season, I think the goal for this team was not just to be in the playoff mix, but to push for a top-four spot in the West. Where they are sitting right now, that goal feels like it is within reach. Obviously, the West is very tight so things can change quickly, but the more Vancouver can play at home in the playoffs, the better chance they will have of making a deep run.
What do you think will be the deciding factor in Saturday’s game?
From a Vancouver perspective, it might boil down to how they manage their energy levels and squad rotation. This will be their third road match and third flight of the week as they’ve gone from Portland to Chicago to New York. Having won those first two matches, I wonder if there could be a bit of an emotional letdown. In all likelihood, the best Vancouver was realistically hoping for was two wins this week, but now they have a chance for the perfect week. Brian White and Ryan Gauld, in particular, played most of those first two matches, so their minutes could be limited in this one.
And for anyone that may be in Vancouver for a game are there any spots you would suggest they check out?
BC Place is not a perfect venue, but the one thing you can’t beat is the location. The benefit of the stadium being right downtown is that it is very walkable from a number of neighborhoods. My favorite neighborhood before a match is probably the Main Street/Olympic Village area. Whether you’re looking for good food, good coffee, or good beer, it’s a great place to hang out and you’re only a short (and reasonably scenic) walk away from the stadium.
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