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2022 Season Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps FC

2021’s feel good story looks to follow up on a promising finish.

CANADA-VANCOUVER-FOOTBALL-MLS-WHITECAPS VS KANSAS CITY Photo by Andrew Soong/Xinhua via Getty Images

ANDIAMO! The Italian phrase translates to “let’s go!” and became a rallying cry for the Whitecaps after interim manager Vanni Sartini took over from Marc Dos Santos in August. Under Sartini’s management, Vancouver finished the season with a strong run that propelled them to a sixth place finish in the Western Conference and a playoff game against Sporting Kansas City. Vancouver was routed at the Blue Hell and spent the offseason trying to build on the late season success of Sartini. The interim tag was removed and Sartini will be gracing MLS sidelines with alllllll of the personality in 2022.

Where does Vancouver’s roster stand as we head into the season?

Key Additions

Vancouver has had a relatively quiet offseason. Midfielder Pedro Vite came in to the team last summer but 2022 will be his first full season. Same goes for Scottish playmaker Ryan Gauld.

The biggest acquisition was a trade for Tristan Blackmon from Charlotte for $475,000 in GAM (Blackmon was an expansion draft pick that was immediately flipped).

Sebastian Berhalter, the son of USMNT manager Gregg Berhalter, was traded from Columbus for $50,000 in GAM with add-ons.

Key Departures

One of the biggest trades of the offseason was LAFC’s acquisition of goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau for $1 million of GAM, conditional GAM, and a draft pick. Crepeau was one of the better keepers in the league in 2021 but Vancouver has homegrown player, Thomas Hasal waiting in the wings. Hasal was a breakout star of the MLS is Back tournament after his performance against Sporting Kansas City. He’s got big gloves to fill.

Homegrown forward Theo Bair was transferred to St. Johnstone in the Scottish Premier League for $140,000. Bair played last season on loan in Norway and only played for 30 minutes for the Caps in 2021.

Midfielder Janio Bikel was loaned to Vincenza in Italy’s Serie B. Bikel played 2,300 minutes for Vancouver last year with one goal and one assist.

Defender Andy Rose left the club as a free agent. Rose played 1,650 minutes with two goals last year for Vancouver.

2022 Season Outlook

Vancouver had a small amount of roster turnover during the offseason. Losing Crepeau is big, but shows how much faith the club puts in Hasal. Bikel and Rose played a fair amount but were not necessarily vital to the Whitecaps’ success.

Vite and Gauld will have an offseason to continue integrating into the team. Forward Brian White signed a long term contract extension after helping spark the Whitecaps offense.

The big question hanging for Vancouver is what happens with Designated Player, Lucas Cavallini? Cavallini is a Canadian international who is currently behind Brian White on the depth chart. Cavallini will undoubtedly want playing time in an effort to make Canada’s World Cup roster. Vancouver can’t be happy with a Designated Player sitting on the bench behind White either, given the financial implications. There isn’t a lot of time left to make any moves happen, but Cavallini could agitate for a move back to Liga MX or look for an intra-league trade.

The Whitecaps look like they could be a middle of the pack playoff team in the Western Conference this year. They seem to be behind Seattle and LAFC, but I would expect them to finish above Minnesota, Salt Lake, and a number of the other teams in the league.

Where do you think our friends from The North finish?