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Striker White has chance to make Whitecaps history against his old team


VANCOUVER — Striker Brian White isn’t sure how he will celebrate if he makes Vancouver Whitecaps history by scoring against his old New York Red Bulls team.

White’s next goal will be his 44th across all competitions, the most of any Whitecap in the Major League Soccer era.

"I'll see how the moment takes me," the 28-year-old, who grew up in Flemington, N.J., said as the Whitecaps prepared to face the Red Bulls on Saturday in New Jersey.

"You try not to think about these kinds of things because they kind of take you out of the rhythm. For me, it’s about how I can help the team win. That’s no different this weekend."

White, who played his college soccer at Duke, was drafted by the Red Bulls in the first round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft. He made 47 appearances with the team, scoring 15 goals, before being traded to Vancouver in 2021.

"Every time you leave a team, you kind of want to go back and maybe prove a point," White said after a Whitecaps practice this week. "For me, it’s about (the chance) of doing it in front of friends and family and having that experience with them. Hopefully we can make that happen."

White is currently tied with Camilo Sanvezzo, a Brazilian who played with Vancouver from 2011-13. He said setting the record would "would mean a lot."

"When I came into the club I was kind of seen as a backup," said White, who leads Vancouver this season with four goals in seven MLS games. "Through hard work and through the trust of the coach and the club, I’ve been able to flourish. I feel mutual love.

"To put my name in the record book means a lot. Hopefully, it’s something I can achieve this weekend."

The Whitecaps beat the Seattle Sounders 2-0 last Saturday to improve to 5-2-1. Vancouver sat second in the Western Conference, two points behind the Los Angeles Galaxy and one ahead of Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, heading into the weekend.

The Red Bulls are coming off a 2-2 draw with Los Angeles FC last weekend. They began the weekend second in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Inter Miami and three points ahead of FC Cincinnati.

Saturday's match will mark the first meeting between the two sides since May 2019, when White scored once for New York in a 2-2 draw.

Vancouver head coach Vanni Sartini said playing the Red Bulls at home, where they have not lost in three matches this season, will be a test for his club.

"It's going to be a hard game," said Sartini. "It's really hard to break them down.

"We need to be on our top behaviour. We need to go with no fear."

Sartini said the Whitecaps will need to keep the ball out wide to beat Red Bulls compact defence.

"It's more play from side to side, be patient with the ball in front of them, find some separation."

Sartini isn’t worried White will feel any extra pressure from the chance to set a record against his old team.

"He’s going to be really very excited to play this game," said the coach. “There is no need to load more of the importance of the game on him.

"He's such a team orientated guy. I know there won’t be a problem."

White said playing for the Whitecaps has allowed his game to mature.

"I have a coach that trusts me, a team that supports me," he said. "You get better when you play a lot of games.

"I've been blessed to come to Vancouver and have the success we’ve had."


Red Bull Arena

REVISITING HISTORY: The Whitecaps scored the most famous victory in their 50-year history just 15 minutes from Red Bull Arena when they defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 to win the NASL championship at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sept. 8, 1979.

PERFECT ON THE ROAD: The Whitecaps will look to improve their road record to 4-0-0. Vancouver holds the best road record in MLS in terms of points percentage since June 24, 2023 (7-3-3, 61.5 per cent). Vancouver is also second with 24 road points in that time span, behind only FC Cincinnati (7-3-4, 25 points).

KEEPING IT CLEAN: The Whitecaps have recorded clean sheets in two of their last three games while outscoring their opponents 7-3. Their 3-1 loss to the Galaxy was sandwiched between a 4-0 defeat of Toronto FC and the 2-0 win over Seattle.

NEW FACE: Vancouver acquired 19-year-old Australian wingback Giuseppe Bovalina via transfer from A-League side Adelaide United. Bovalina started 18 of his 23 appearances across all competitions for Adelaide, scoring once and adding two assists.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 26, 2024.