Richie Laryea returns to Toronto for first time since leaving for Whitecaps
VANCOUVER — For the second time in his career, Richie Laryea is returning to a former club.
Laryea joined the Vancouver Whitecaps in August from English Premier League side Nottingham Forest, after his loan deal with Toronto FC expired at the end of June.
Saturday will mark his first time back at BMO Field since leaving for the West Coast, and the wingback said it comes with mixed emotions.
"It's a mixed bag, mostly excited," he said. "Seeing old friends, old teammates, a place that's been home for a couple years and is where I'm from as well. It'll be exciting to play against old teammates, friends and have family in the crowd as well."
Laryea's first time returning to a previous haunt came when he first signed for Toronto FC and he faced off against Orlando City SC, the team that gave him his start in Major League Soccer.
"It was fun to play against guys you've played with for a while and been a part of," he said.
Laryea played 18 times for Toronto this season, his second stint with the club after signing for Nottingham Forest in 2022.
He scored 10 goals in 95 matches for the Reds over five seasons.
He's also played 45 matches for Canada, including three in the group stage of last year's World Cup in Qatar.
Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini said the motivation that comes from returning to a former team is one that needs to be managed.
"I think it can be a double-edged sword," he said. "Of course they have an extra motivation, they go there they have family there and friends seeing them.
"This extra motivation can lead you to try to do too much, so we need to manage those little things."
Laryea is part of a contingent of Whitecaps players hailing from Ontario — the list includes Ali Ahmed, Ryan Raposo and Russell Teibert — and Sartini said he's pleased those players get a chance to compete in their home province.
"I'm happy we have a lot of Ontario boys that are going to see their family when we go there," said Sartini. "I hope they're going to put their best soccer boots and soccer habits in front of their friends in order to make a fantastic game."
The Whitecaps sit sixth in MLS' Western Conference with 38 points. Vancouver remains on the road, with three away games until they return home on Sept. 30 to take on D.C. United.
The Whitecaps have also claimed the Cascadia Cup, an annual three-team round robin tournament created by fans, which pits the records of Vancouver, Portland FC and the Seattle Sounders against each other.
The team with the best record against one another claims the trophy. This season was the fourth time in MLS that Vancouver has won it.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2023.