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Ryan Gauld of the Vancouver Whitecaps

A Star is Born

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Story by Joe Leary
Photos by Jacob Coutur

A Star is Born Ryan Gauld tallied 12 goals and a team-high 17 assists this season earning him VWFC ‘Player of the Year

In the pantheon of premier pro caliber athletes, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC has a true gem in Ryan Gauld. Dynamic and forceful on the pitch, he is equal parts gracious and engaging away from it.

He clearly possesses and displays all of the essential elements of being a bonafide star. A 27 year old mid fielder who hails from Aberdeen, Scotland, Ryan Gauld signed a three-year contract with the Vancouver soccer club in 2021, following a stellar stint with Portuguese side FC Farense. While not initially familiar with the whole Vancouver vibe, he and his girlfriend (now fiancée) did their due diligence and researched what the West Coast has to offer when the Whitecaps came calling. And despite Aberdeen, Scotland being 7000 km away, geographically, there is a distinct parallel between the two locales certainly with respect to climate.

One big similarity is the amount of rainfall, he notes. In Scotland, it rains pretty much year-round but the big difference is that here in Vancouver you get a good summer. It’s very picturesque and there’s a lot to do. And yes, he has acclimatized to all the West Coast lifestyle has to offer.

We surf, he says of his outdoor activities away from the pitch. We’ve been to Tofino several times because whether it’s the mountains and hiking or being close to the water, you’ve got everything here. Gauld’s professional career started at Dundee United, helping that squad to reach the 2014 Scottish Cup Final.

His MLS arrival has been pure magic. With his skill, the Vancouver Whitecaps won the Canadian Championship in 2022; with Gauld winning the George Cross Memorial Trophy as tournament MVP in the process. Earlier this year the Whitecaps retained the championship, with Ryan scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.

Paul Dolan knows a thing or two about the value of an asset like Ryan Gauld. As a former Vancouver 86er and Canadian World Cup goalkeeper,

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Dolan serves as an MLS analyst for Apple TV and is an honored member of the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. Whitecaps FC Coach Vanni Sartini calls him the workingman’s DP (Designated Player) and he is the most selfless, high-profile player in MLS, says Dolan.

Gauld gives everything he can for the betterment of the team on both sides of the ball and he’s been the best player in the league, in my opinion, since his scoring streak started in May. Compared in his attacking style to international superstar Lionel Messi, Gauld acknowledges that now being in the same league is nothing but great for soccer in North America. It’s just amazing for the league and it’s shown that the MLS has taken the next step forward to attract what a lot of people think of as the best player of all time.

He’s not here for a holiday—you can see he’s taking it seriously. I think a lot of teams so far have kind of been in awe of him and that’s proven to be pretty deadly going against him. As hard as it would be, I think the best way forward is to forget that it’s Messi and play your normal game and hope he doesn’t produce a piece of magic.

While local fan enthusiasm may not be quite as frenetic as in his home country, Ryan Gauld is impressed, nonetheless, with the Whitecaps ticketholders. The support plays such a big part, and we’ve had that when we’ve gone through tough times and the fans kept showing up and supporting us, he says. As players, we appreciate that. We want to be playing in front of as many fans as we can and we want as many people as possible to come to the games.

If we play some good attacking football, we’ll do that. Away from the pitch, don’t be surprised to see Ryan Gauld somewhere in Kitsilano, where he calls home and enjoys the local terrain and its proximity to water. I’ve got two dogs so I spend a lot of time at Spanish Banks, he notes. I’m also a coffee lover and I think I’ve tried just about every café in Kits.

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