As Carl Robinson had mentioned since the end of the season, that there would be changes this off-season, more notably with the pre-season training plans as the Caps roughly 10 less days to prepare for the season as the Knock-out Round of the CONCACAF Champions League opens up at the end of February. But first, the Caps will depart home on Jan 23 destined for the county borough of the Vale of Glamorgan. This trip will be their training camp and a number of yet to be announced friendlies before returning home on Feb 3, where they will spend the next couple of days training at home. This is a vast departure from previous years, where they have travelled across North America for various tournaments with fellow MLS sides. Whether this move pays off or not, is anyone’s guess, but will the competition they face be any tougher than what they’d see at the Desert Friendlies in Tucson, AZ? Once again, time will tell.
Unlike the past couple of years, the Caps will make another appearance at Providence Park, joining Cascadian rivals, and host, Portland Timbers, and fellow Western Conference foes, the claret and cobalt clad Real Salt Lake, and MLS newcomers, the Loons of Minnesota United. This will mark the Caps 4th consecutive appearance in this event. This year’s tournament runs from Feb 9-15, culminating in the game everyone wants to see, Portland vs Vancouver. And of course, yours truly and a few others are bound to make the trip down the I5 for this.
The Caps then return home to start final preparations for Leg 1 of the Knock-out Round in the CCL, where they’ll face New York Red Bulls on Feb 22 in Harrison. The return leg, is 8 days later back at BC Place with the winner moving on to face the winner of the Pumas UNAM/Tigres UANL fixture in the Semi-Final. Should they advance, it’s a good news/bad news situation. Both Pumas and Tigres are Mexican powerhouses and they face each other. That’s the good news. Obviously, one of them has to advance, that’s the bad news.
Even before a semi-competitive ball is kicked, there’s the usual plethora of draft/play allocation mechanisms that the MLS has to go through.
A quick run-down and schedule of this off-season:
Important dates (all times are local):
January 7-12: adidas MLS Player Combine in Los Angeles, CA
January 13: MLS SuperDraft in Los Angeles, CA
January 23: Travel to the United Kingdom
February 3: Travel to Vancouver, BC
February 7: Travel to Portland, OR
February 9: Minnesota United FC vs. Whitecaps FC at Providence Park (5 p.m. PT)
February 12: Real Salt Lake vs. Whitecaps FC at Providence Park (2:30 p.m. PT)
February 15: Portland Timbers vs. Whitecaps FC at Providence Park (7:30 p.m. PT)
February 16: Travel to Vancouver, BC
February 20: Travel to New York, NY
February 22: New York Red Bulls vs. Whitecaps FC at Red Bull Arena
March 2: Whitecaps FC vs. New York Red Bulls at BC Place
All this happens before the 2017 MLS season even kicks off.