Yesterday morning it was announced that beginning in 2014, all Whitecaps FC MLS matches will be broadcast live on one network nationwide with TSN becoming the official Whitecaps FC broadcaster.
In honour of the occasion, whitecapsfc.com asked a few questions to MLS on TSN expert announcers Luke Wileman and Jason deVos with topics ranging from the serious to the silly.
Q: What was your reaction when you heard that TSN would become the official broadcast home of Vancouver Whitecaps FC?
I was excited to have the opportunity to cover more Whitecaps games, but at the same time, I was concerned for my broadcast partner, Luke Wileman. Vancouver is his favourite stop on the MLS circuit, and I'm worried that since he'll be spending more time there covering the Whitecaps, he'll never want to leave! Mind you, he's already committed to doing the Grouse Grind with me every time we're in town next season, so that has to be a good thing.
LUKE: More soccer can only be a good thing! It's a great opportunity for us to continue growing our soccer content on TSN and specifically Major League Soccer. The league has taken massive strides forward in recent years and it is exciting to be involved with the Whitecaps as the club continues to grow. Personally, I love being in Vancouver and it is always enjoyable to work with the Whitecaps. The staff, players and management are very accommodating and assist us with everything we need to provide the best broadcast possible. The fans always ensure it is a great atmosphere at BC Place which comes across well on the TV.
Q: What kind of impact do you foresee for Whitecaps FC, and for MLS in Canada, to now have every ‘Caps match broadcast nationwide?
JASON: The more games that are broadcast nationwide, the better it is for soccer in Canada. Young players have so much access to quality soccer on television these days, and there is so much that they can learn from watching professional players. Hopefully, watching games will inspire the next generation to want to reach those heights themselves.
LUKE: One of the important steps for the growth of MLS is to get fans across North America to take a keen interest in the league as a whole. With so many games now being broadcast coast to coast in Canada, it is a great opportunity for soccer fans across our country to follow the league, and specifically the three Canadian teams more closely. For the 'Caps, it's a fantastic chance to reach a wider audience and win some new fans.
Q: You’ve been covering ‘Caps matches since the club joined MLS. What is your favourite moment from the first three years?
JASON: As disappointing as the end result was, it has to be the Whitecaps' appearance in the MLS Cup playoffs in 2012. I wasn't a fan of the playoff system when I first returned to Canada from England, as the concept was foreign to me. But the excitement that comes with post-season play is infectious, and you can't help but get carried along with it.
Without doubt the 2011 home opener win against Toronto FC at Empire Field is my top memory so far. It was a wonderful occasion, a great atmosphere and an entertaining game. It was also our first ever MLS on TSN broadcast. What stands out above everything else is Eric Hassli's opening goal. It was an honour for me to call the Whitecaps first goal in MLS history. Other highlights: the Whitecaps first playoff game at LA and Kekuta Manneh's hat-trick in Seattle.
Q: Whitecaps FC possessed a formidable record of 6W-3L-2D when they played on TSN last season. What’s your explanation?
'Caps storm to a 3-0 win over Montreal Impact
JASON: I put it down to Luke's one attempt (a successful one, I might add) at conquering the Grouse Grind. He did it in a respectable one hour and 23 minutes. (Well, it isn't really respectable - but what else can I say?! I'm determined to get him up that mountain in under an hour this season).
LUKE: Well after the first couple of years, the TSN record had to get better! We had some really good performances from the 'Caps on TSN in 2013 with big road wins in Seattle and Montreal two that stand out the most. Unfortunately I don't think we can take any credit!
Q: Exciting times for the club with the recent appointment of Carl Robinson as head coach. What do you expect from the Blue and White come March?
JASON: I expect the Whitecaps to play attacking football, while at the same time being defensively responsible. Robbo is someone I've gotten to know quite well over the years, dating back to our time playing against each other while I was at Ipswich and he was at Norwich. (Where, I might add, Norwich failed to defeat Ipswich on four occasions - two wins and two draws for the mighty Tractor Boys!).
Robbo is a leader, and while he has confidence in his own ability, he is open-minded enough to admit that he doesn't have all the answers. I've long believed that he has the characteristics to be a very successful manager, and I'm confident that he will justify the Whitecaps' faith in him.
LUKE: I've known Carl since he arrived in Canada in 2007 to play for Toronto FC and have always been impressed by his commitment, honesty and knowledge of the game. I think he is an excellent hire and has all the necessary qualities to be a great head coach. With Carl at the helm, and an exciting young squad, I expect the 'Caps to be an attacking team to watch. It should provide for some entertaining matches and hopefully a successful year.
Q: Which matches are you most looking forward to this coming season?
JASON: The Cascadia games always have a buzz about them, whether they are home or away. The supporters do a magnificent job of creating an atmosphere in which players want to compete. Any games against Toronto or Montreal have an edge to them as well, as the players know how much it means to the supporters to have bragging rights over their Canadian rivals.
LUKE: As you would expect, the Cascadia matches are always a favourite. We're very fortunate that the Pacific Northwest is such a hotbed of soccer. The rivalry between the three teams makes for some great games and atmospheres. The all-Canadian match-ups are special as well, so June 25 against Montreal at BC Place, and mid-July at Toronto FC will also be circled on my calendar. The season opener can never come quick enough for me! Whitecaps FC against Carl Robinson's former club New York Red Bulls will be a great way to kick off the 2014 season.
Q: Camilo scored nine goals in seven matches on TSN last season. Who do you think he was more motivated to impress (Luke or Jason)?
JASON: Luke will obviously say himself here, won't he? He hasn't stopped talking about his three offside goals in last year's Whitecaps FC Media
Invitational. (For the record, his team narrowly escaped taking home the wooden spoon, while mine finished runners-up after a heartbreaking loss in the final to Perry's Plonkers. It's a team game, Luke. It's a team game).
LUKE: Camilo was trying his best to make sure I didn't score the best goal at BC Place in 2013. I think in the end he probably managed to beat me. My scissor kicks don't look so elegant. The only goals Jason has ever scored are in his own net, so there's no need for Camilo to try and impress him! Camilo did tell me he used to watch Jason playing "back in the old days" before the advent of colour televisions.
Q: Finally, the ultimate question... After a thrilling 2013 Whitecaps FC Media Invitational, what are your early predictions for the 2014 event?
2013 Vancouver Whitecaps FC Media Invitational
Luke Wileman will crumble under the pressure and will fail to repeat last year's flukey goal scoring exploits, and he will come away from the tournament as a broken man. He will be so embarrassed by his performance that he won't be able to leave the hotel the following day, leaving me to call the Whitecaps game on my own. Which will probably be for the best.
LUKE: Jason will try and break my leg! It was a fantastic event this year, but Jason was clearly upset that I put in such a good performance, scoring three stunning goals, including one against his team! He is already talking about payback. Hopefully next season I might get picked to be on Perry Solkowski's team of Champions. Peter "the cat" Schaad will likely be picked first overall in the Media Match Draft after his stunning performances in goal. Carl Valentine will put in another exceptional refereeing performance.