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Vancouver Whitecaps Expected To Call Utah Home During 2021 MLS Season

Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jake Nerwinski (28) protects the ball against Real Salt Lake forward Justin Meram (9) during an MLS soccer game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (Yukai Peng, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Vancouver Whitecaps will call Utah home for the foreseeable future, according to an article by Away From The Numbers (AFTN).

Last year, the Whitecaps spend a large portion of their season in Portland, playing at Providence Park due to the border restrictions between the USA and Canada as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada has strict quarantine measures still in place. If you would like to enter and cross the Canadian border you are required to quarantine, those rules and regulations apply to everybody, including professional sports stars.

Therefore, for the Whitecaps to participate in the 2021 MLS Season, it is easiest for them to relocate temporarily and move to the USA.

Why Utah?

Whitecaps CEO and Sporting Director Axel Schuster told AFTN why Utah made the most sense.

“[Accommodation] might be one good reason for Salt Lake, but the main reason we are very high on Salt Lake is that they built a whole new environment for the [women’s] professional soccer team and they went away just after they finished it,” Schuster said. “So we would have a facility that is comparable to the facility we have here at UBC. We would have our home with offices, with gyms, with locker rooms, with massage rooms. With all you need.”

With the loss of the Utah Royals FC, the Zions Bank Real Training Facilities have excess space. The Whitecaps will be able to utilize the facilities left by the Royals.

“So we would have that sort of home, because if we are looking not to stay in a hotel, you don’t have the environment of a hotel. If you live in condos, where do you meet? So you need some form of home. You need somewhere where you meet as a team, where you have your meal, where you prepare for training, and all of that, and for that reason Utah offers a very, very good options for us and it looks really, really good there,” Schuster added.

Last year when Vancouver called Portland home, they left their families in Canada and travelled back every few weeks to see them. This year, however, family members of the Whitecaps will travel to Utah with their loved ones.

Nothing is certain, yet. However, with the MLS season quickly approaching and preseason officially beginning on March 8, the Whitecaps are expected to officially announce Utah as their home away from home soon.