We've known for a while that the Vancouver Whitecaps would open their season against the Montreal Impact within the cozy confines of BC Place. (Remember what happened the last time Montreal was here? That was great.) Now, we know the path of the rest of Vancouver's journey through the 2016 season.
Major League Soccer teams released their full 2016 league schedule on Thursday, though some home kickoff times (for Vancouver, at least) have yet to be determined. Also absent is the broadcast schedule, which may cause some nervous hand-wringing among those who had more than a few frustrations with TSN's treatment of the 'Caps in 2015. (NASCAR? You pre-empted MLS for [expletive] NASCAR?!) There is good news on the American broadcast front, with the 'Caps finally getting some prime time exposure south of the border. Three matches will be shown on the American national broadcasters (ESPN, UniMás, FOX/FS1): May 22nd in Portland, August 12th (Viernes de Futbol!) at home to San Jose and October 2nd at home to Seattle. It's a welcome change from last year's total snub; fingers crossed the playoff exposure and the rise of Tim Parker keep Vancouver relevant on both sides of the border.
Looking at the rest of the season, there are some interesting fixtures to take note of. For starters, there's no mammoth road trip as BC Place doesn't have any World Cup-related fixtures (that we know of) taking precedence. That said, there's still a nasty stretch from late July to mid-September where seven of nine matches are away from home (3A, 1H, 2A, 1H, 2A). Add in the CONCACAF Champions League fixtures with all its probable cross-continent travel (or they'll draw Portland, whatever) and this could be another late summer of discontent for the 'Caps. Elsewhere, Vancouver is spared the gruelling road trip to Orlando City SC, instead hosting the purple-clad club on July 16th. Matt "Armchair Analyst" Doyle of MLSSoccer.com picked this as one of his must-watch matches of the year, focusing on a showdown between Kekuta Manneh and reigning Rookie of the Year Cyle Larin. Forgive my skepticism; I foresee that duel being further down the list of pressing issues in a 'Caps-v-Lions match, eclipsed by the swarm of autograph seekers for that Brazilian guy who's kinda good at football and the lingering aftertaste of the reception the "Caps On Tour" received in 2015. Remember: take the high road, everyone. No taunting, baiting, battery-throwing or other nonsense. We're better than the classless rabble of Florida; let's show it. Finally, the season concludes with the 'Caps taking their third crack at the defending MLS Cup champion (hurk) Portland Timbers (barf). This could very well be the match that decides the Cascadia Cup, though the two meetings in May might also have something to do with it. (Amusingly, at the time of typing this article, the home meeting on May 7th is currently listed as being in Providence Park. Great, just what we need: more ammo for "our house / in the middle of BC".)
The full Vancouver Whitecaps schedule can be found here.