This is the eighth part of a series in which we introduce Orlando City fans to the teams our Lions will be facing in 2015 when the team starts play in Major League Soccer. Today we take a look at the Vancouver Whitecaps.
What are the three most important things Orlando City fans need to know about the Whitecaps?
1. The Whitecaps joined MLS after many years in the lower divisions. This is actually the second incarnation of the Whitecaps, who were resurrected as the Vancouver 86ers after the original NASL and original Whitecaps folded back in the mid-80s.
2. Current club president, Bob Lenarduzzi, played for the original Whitecaps and is a soccer icon, not only here in Vancouver, but also across Canada. Our current head coach, Carl Robinson, served as an assistant coach under the previous manager, Martin Rennie, before he was promoted to the top job after Rennie was let go following the 2013 season.
3. The Whitecaps play all their home matches at BC Place stadium in downtown Vancouver. It is a 55,000-seat, retractable-roof stadium, but for soccer matches they have devised a unique way of dividing the lower and upper bowls to create a smaller and more intimate atmosphere. The modified seating arrangement provides them with a capacity of 22,000 seats, but there are provisions in place to expand the lower bowl capacity up to about 27,000 seats.
What nicknames, chants and slang are unique to Vancouver, and can you please explain them if they aren’t readily apparent to the outsider?
MD: Most of the nicknames are fairly straight forward and include: the “Caps” or the “Blue and White” (the latter being a reference to the club’s colors).
There are numerous Supporters’ Groups here in Vancouver, with the Vancouver Southsiders, Rain City Brigade and Curva Collective being the most prominent. Each group has their own unique chants and songs, but the one song that is most recognizable is “Boundary Road,” which is a reference to the location of Swangard Stadium. Swangard is where the club played in its various incarnations from the mid-80s until we made the jump to MLS, and is considered by many supporters to be the “spiritual home” of the Whitecaps. The supporters sing “Boundary Road” as they march to the stadium, as well as at the start of both the first and second halves of the match. The song is sung to the tune of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” but our version is as follows: Boundary Road, take me home to the place where I belong! / Vancouver, pretty mama, take me home, Boundary Road!
The name “Whitecaps” comes from the mountains from the Coast Mountain range that surround Vancouver and are covered with snow during the winter months. The name has a double meaning because it is also a reference to the white-capped waves from the Pacific Ocean that flow up and down Georgia Strait. The club’s badge represents these waves and snowy peaks, and if one looks very closely you will also see the initials “VW” in the lower half of the badge, representing the waves.
What are the can’t-miss things to do when Orlando City fans visit a Vancouver Whitecaps game?
MD: Supporter culture is alive and well here in Vancouver. The three main supporters’ groups all have their own pubs and bars where they meet for a pint before and after matches. The Vancouver Southsiders are by far the largest group in the city, with over 1,200 members, and they meet at Doolin’s Irish Pub before marching en masse over to BC Place (singing and chanting the entire way, of course!). The Southsiders have a visitor’s guide to the city on their website and encourage other (respectful and friendly) supporters to join them for a pint. The Southsiders regularly invite other supporters’ groups, such as Gorilla FC (Seattle, WA) and the Timbers Army (Portland, OR), to enjoy a pint and some good times after matches.
Who are the key players on the Vancouver roster that we should know about?
MD: Our key players include our Chilean Maestro, who is better known to the rest of MLS as attacking midfielder Pedro Morales. Pedro was signed from La Liga club Málaga CF last winter as a designated player. Pedro has been a revelation, and leads the team in many categories. Other important players include Mauro Rosales, Matias Laba, David Ousted and Russell Teibert.
Which Whitecaps do you think might get exposed in the upcoming MLS Expansion Draft?
MD: This is an interesting question, and one that we have been debating quite a bit amongst ourselves in recent times. The Whitecaps have had problems consistently scoring goals this season after 2013 MLS Golden Boot winner Camilo Sanvezzo left for Mexican club Querétaro FC last winter. The Whitecaps’ brass stated recently that they are looking to add as many as five or six new players in the off-season, with a proven goal scorer as the top priority.
The gaffer has a list of seven or eight “target” players identified and will make a move as soon as he is able to, and I would think that this may expose some forwards, such as Darren Mattocks and Erik Hurtado in the process. Looking through the roster I think that we may see center back Andy O’Brien exposed for the expansion draft as well, but other than that the rest is a guess. Several other players have signed either new deals or contract extensions this year, so anyone else that may be left exposed for the draft entirely depends on what direction the team decides to go for 2015. The Whitecaps are in the thick of the playoff hunt here in the west, and many of us believe we are very close to becoming a very competitive team.
We’d like to thank Mark for giving us the inside dope on the Whitecaps. Vancouver seems like a great place for an Orlando City road trip.
Previous “Meet Our New Foes”: