The Vancouver Whitecaps traveled to Kansas City Thursday morning, after a 1-0 loss to Atlanta United FC Wednesday evening at BC Place. The flight from Vancouver to Kansas City is just under six hours, with no direct flights. This is a common occurrence for the Whitecaps, as they are the most isolated Major League Soccer club.
Heading into this season, Big D Soccer analyzed how far each team will have to travel this season, and it is no surprise that Vancouver will travel the most miles, with 51,210. Surprisingly, San Jose Earthquakes are second at 49,726. Less surprising is that Seattle and Portland sit fourth and fifth. In comparison, Columbus will travel the least this season, racking up a ‘mere’ 25,862 miles. They are followed by DC United (27,566) and Cincinnati (27,582). This means that Vancouver will travel twice as many miles as many Eastern Conference clubs.
The furthest journey for any team? That would be Vancouver’s trip to Orlando earlier this season. That was 2,624 miles one-way, or 5,248. In fact, Vancouver will take 13 trips that are greater than 1,000 miles one-way. The most by any club.
With the longest trip of any club this season, you would think that MLS would attempt to make the journey easier in some fashion. Instead, Vancouver played Wednesday evening, at BC Place, against LAFC, then had a Saturday afternoon match in Orlando.
To be clear, I am not stating that other teams don’t experience similar issues. Atlanta, this week, is a good example. They played Sunday afternoon, at home, flew to Vancouver for Wednesday, then head to New York for a 2pm (5pm EST) match on Sunday. THEN, they will travel to Salt Lake for a match next Friday evening. All I am saying is that the numbers show Vancouver experiences this issue the most.
It is no surprise that charter flights were announced as an important component of the new collective bargaining agreement. While travel is a part of the picture, and it is never an excuse, this is an issue that needs to be addressed by Major League Soccer. While incorporating more charter flights into the new collective bargaining agreement would be helpful, there needs to be some adjustments to the schedule. There is NO REASON (okay, yes, some reasons but still) that Orlando City and Vancouver couldn’t have played on Sunday instead of Saturday at 2pm. Likewise, there could have been adjustments made to accommodate long journeys by attempting to place them on weeks when a club only has that one match. Will this ALWAYS be possible? Of course not, but there is no reason why this needs to be a common occurrence every year.
How about Atlanta plays Vancouver, then Salt Lake, THEN New York?
Don’t forget that prior to Wednesday’s LAFC match, Vancouver was in Chicago. That means, on April 12th they played in Chicago. April 17th, at home to LAFC. April 20th, in Orlando City.
What do you see as the solution to this problem? Is this something that Vancouver Whitecaps players just need to accept or is the league doing a poor job of scheduling for the Caps AND other teams? Will the charter flights make a big difference in your eyes? Let us know your thoughts.