Whitecaps Unveil The 2021 Schedule: Home Games In The Distance?
The Vancouver Whitecaps unveil the 2021 schedule in fun fashion on Twitter. As is the case with teams in the social media era. It is only right to release your schedule in some kind of: "The Office", "Friends" or in this case the phone screen montage...
We already knew the first two weeks of the Whitecaps schedule. Starting off the season against the Portland Timbers in Utah on April 18th before a trip down to Florida to take on Toronto FC on April 24th. Now the full 34 games are out including when the international breaks are set. For the full-team MLS, schedule click here.
Vancouver will play a majority of their matches against teams in the west. The expectations being the second week against TFC and May 8th when they host the rebranded CF Montreal. The only other scheduled games for Rio Tinto Stadium for the Whitecaps are May 2nd as they host the Colorado Rapids, and June 23rd when they host the L.A. Galaxy.
Vancouver has 13 of their last 17 home games slated from July 7th to decision day on November 7th. This is in the hopes of playing back in Canada at B.C. Place Stadium. Axel Schuster has mentioned, in previous media, that the team has booked 3 months down in Utah (April, May, and June) and would try and return home for July. With vaccinations rolling out across Canada and the United States, they will hope the border restrictions are eased by this time.
Other notable games in the Whitecaps schedule will be the Cascadia Battles. Vancouver kicks things off against the Timbers before playing them two more times. Portland will travel to Utah once again on Friday, September 10th before the Whitecaps will be the road team for a weekday clash on Wednesday, October 20th. Vancouver will also play the Seattle Sounders 3 times this season starting with June 26th and September 15th in the emerald city. The teams will finish off the season on November 7th, "Decision Day" in Vancouver.
The schedule has been regionalized to a certain point for the MLS 2021 season Vancouver will only play two eastern teams but will play 8 teams in the west 3 times. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, those teams are; Portland, Seattle, L.A. Galaxy, LAFC, San Jose Earthquake, Minnesota United FC, Real Salt Lake, and Houston Dynamo. They round out the schedule with 2 against the Rapids, FC Dallas, Sporting KC, and the new expansion team Austin FC. They will host them on July 28th before traveling to the new Q2 Stadium on August 18th.
Vancouver will have one guaranteed fan for this game as I needed to find out if #CapsOnTour Kris was going to check this stadium off his bucket list early.
Whitecaps Unveil The 2021 Schedule and International Breaks
The Whitecaps unveil the 2021 schedule and the MLS unveiled their plans for international breaks. With so many Whitecaps players being an option for national team duty the dates are more important than ever this year. Head coach Marc Dos Santos Spoke about it at media on Wednesday, March 24th,
"We're catching up in a lot of things in the CONCACAF, in the National teams... I was laughing with Lucas (Cavallini), we were talking before he left for the national team. And we spoke about this year you might play more games for Canada than for the Whitecaps." He would continue on talking about the need for depth this year more than ever, "That's why we are working on having at least two very good players in each position."
The season will see 4 lengthy international breaks of 9 days or over in 2021. There will be a 26-day break from May 2nd to June 18th for World Cup CONCACAF Qualifying. 9 days from July 7th to 17th for the Gold Cup (This could be an issue for the Whitecaps). August 28th to September 10th for the World Cup Qualifying, and finally 14 days from October 2nd to 17th. The Gold Cup runs from July 10th to August 1 so if Canada makes a run the Whitecaps could be without Maxime Crepeau, Lucas Cavallini, and possibly others.
The Whitecaps could also be without even more players in the Canadian Men's U23 team qualifies for the Tokyo 2021 Olympics. The top 2 from 8 teams will move on to the games and the National squad is primed to move to the Semi's later in the week. Depth will be important this season at all positions. "Maybe we should just sign 11 players," Said Marc Dos Santos when asked about having more than one perceived starter at some positions. There will be lots to navigate this season both on and off the field. The Canadian Championship will be figured out at a later date for the Canadian teams.
Head Coach Marc Dos Santos Media Availability
Head Coach Marc Dos Santos was made available to media Wednesday, March 24th, after the schedule was announced. He was asked about a variety of things including, the logistical difficulties of relocating to Utah. "We're moving to Salt Lake, and he's coming [along] with a backpack, he doesn't care if he plays in Salt Lake right now, of course, he wants to play in front of our fans but it's an easy process for him, single guys it's easier."
More of the difficulties would come with players with families, that includes fur families as MDS would continue, "Then we have the single guys that have the dog, the dog is a process. We have the married guys that have kids and dogs, and animals, and even where do they park their car in Vancouver. There [are] so many details that are admin people have been monsters in a good way and dealing with all of this...There were players that it was non-negotiable the family aspect. They go to Salt Lake if their family goes to Salt Lake."
Marc also spoke about the depth of the team and the plans for various players this year. One of the players asked about was Jasser Khmiri who had his first year hampered by injury before starting to get into his groove last year. He had this to say about Jasser,
"We got Jasser in a very good moment. Before he took the plane to come here in 2019 he was in a great moment with the U20 team in Tunisia, he was in a great moment in his club. There was interest in clubs from France for Jasser but the setback in 2019 with the problem in his knee that we had to correct from the start was a big process... We think he needs a game, we think he needs to be on the market." Loan options could be in Jasser's future.
On the challenges of training camp this season with so many players being away on international duty, "We are working more with our academy players than our first team players. So [is] that ideal for preparation? No, Absolutely not, the exciting part is refreshing when we can arrive at Salt Lake and that group finally is going to come more and more together."
"I feel it's always very high, the effort and the commitment and professionalism of everyone is always very good. But in moments, the quality of some exercise s like a roller coaster, you know that sometimes like with the lack of combinations still because it's still all the new group. I am looking forward as a coach just to get to the point when all the roster is together and working together, and this is not soon, unfortunately."
Marc was asked with the long layoff before the Whitecaps unveil the 2021 schedule if fan engagement would suffer once they returned home? "No, no chance because our fans are emotional in a good way. We keep on receiving messages. Sometimes I'm stopped in the street by fans and there is a concern and connection." Fans will hope to be allowed back into the stadium in some capacity when the team returns to Vancouver in July.
It won't be until April or even later that the full squad will be available for Marc Dos Santos. Hopefully, they can all get up to speed for the April 18th opener for the 2021 MLS season.
Sports Talk Lines 2021 Vancouver Whitecaps Coverage
The Whitecaps unveil the 2021 schedule and it will begin in Utah and hopefully end in Vancouver. I will have you covered all year from pre-game to post-game to everything in between. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @JoshuaGriffith0 and check out the Sports Talk Line Website for the latest articles about your Vancouver Whitecaps.
Don't forget to tune into The Unnamed Sports Show every week as I will be bringing on more guests to cover MLS and the team. Also will bring you one-on-one interviews again like last season so subscribe to The Sports Talk Line YouTube Channel. Here is the full media availability from Marc Dos Santos if you missed it.
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