In this edition of 'Quality Time' presented by GE Appliances, Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Simon Becher shares his initial impressions of Vancouver and how he's adapted to MLS after spending a year with Whitecaps FC 2 in MLS NEXT Pro.
When I came in after the draft, having the opportunity to get into the environment and build with the first team, work on my game, and get the feedback from the coaching staff and the club on what they think I can do to earn a first team contract was really valuable for me and having a full year to prove to the club that I belong at that level. I think was huge for me.
After going to college, we selected you out of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft and had a year with Whitecaps FC 2 in MLS NEXT Pro. Now you’re with the first team. How have you found the transition from the college level to the professional game?
It’s been good. When I came in after the draft, having the opportunity to get into the environment and build with the first team, work on my game, and get the feedback from the coaching staff and the club on what they think I can do to earn a first team contract, I think that was really valuable for me and having full year to kind of prove to the club that I belong at that level. I think it was huge for me.
Last year, you were a member of Whitecaps FC 2’s inaugural season in MLS NEXT Pro, how did it feel to be a part of that team making a return to Swangard Stadium?
Last year, we had a very good group, a lot of guys still with them with good chances of earning a (first team) contract and obviously Ali Ahmed as well was there. It was a really good environment, a lot of like-minded players, guys with a lot of quality who also had aspirations to earn a first team contract. To have an environment every day where you’re competing for starting spots, competing for minutes but also in the greater scheme of things competing for a first-team contract, I think it brought out the best in everyone, everyone always wanting to do extra work and improve their game so yeah, it was a really good group and I think this year again they have a really good group.
What’s your fondest memory of playing at Swangard?
When we played North Texas, at that time I think we were top of the league, we beat them 3-1 but that was a really big game. Huge win, I scored, intense game like high, high level, Michael Baldisimo played with us, they had a couple first team guys too and guys that are on the first team now. I think that was my favourite game to play in.
Do you still come out and watch Whitecaps FC 2 when you have the opportunity?
Yep, me Ali, Karifa, J.C., a lot of guys, when we can make it to games, we do and I think it’s important. I remember last year when first team guys would come to our games and having the staff there, obviously wanting to play well. I think it’s important to have a good connectivity between the first team and the second team. I’m still very close with a lot of guys on the team and want to support them, it’s good football, a great location and place to watch a game, so yeah, whenever I can I do make it out there.
Describe what it’s like to play at BC Place.
I think it’s a very special place to play, having the fans all above you when you walk out of the tunnel. It’s such a beautifully built venue as well, it’s awesome. You can’t really put it into words but it’s special, especially coming up, being in the stands at first and then being on the field. I remember the feeling of the 2022 Can Champ Final of it just packed and being like ‘all I want to do is be on that field’ and then this year, winning the Can Champ and being on the field just makes it like full circle. Even anytime you’re on the field, you’re looking around and the roofs open, it’s awesome.
Describe what it’s like to sing ‘Stand By Me’ with the fans after wins at BC Place.
I think, for one, it’s a big feeling of unity and obviously, every time we sing it after a win, everyone is celebrating in sharing in that win, not just with the team but with the staff and with the players, obviously friends and family also still there. It’s great feelings and the connectiveness you feel from the players all the way to the fans and everyone in the club is, again, something that’s really special. It’s something we look forward to after every win and every time we step on the field with the end goal of singing ‘Stand By Me’ before we go home.
Who has been the biggest mentor in your career thus far?
I’ve had a couple bigger mentors in my career, my family and my dad obviously being some of the people that supported me, but more so in the game my academy coach Kevin Bacher, I had him for four or five years. He was someone that really pushed me and gave me the belief in myself that I could reach higher levels of football and kind of ignited that fire in me, that drive. In the next step in college, Kevin Kalish was my coach there and he helped me a lot, just improved parts of my game and showed me the work that needs to be put in every day to aspire to be a professional and take yourself to the next level.
What has been your favourite moment so far with the club?
I’m going to pick two. I think one, obviously, scoring on my debut, just a special moment for me personally. And two, I think winning the Canadian Championship this year for us like so many different players played in that tournament, just from top to bottom it’s such a big team effort. Then, being able to back-to-back for the first time in club history and again do it at home, just for me and for everyone, I think I speak on behalf of everyone just how special that was.
What do you love most about Vancouver?
I love how walkable it is. I feel like I can get anywhere in the city no problem so if I want to do something, because it’s so easy to go out and do things, I feel more motivated to go do things and explore and try new stuff. There are so many cultures that it’s just a really cool, unique place to be.
Is there a favourite spot you have in the city? Could be a restaurant, park, shop or place.
Milano Coffee Shop, it overlooks a little dog park and they have large doors that open up to the patio, it’s a fantastic spot.
What is one thing you haven’t done yet in Vancouver but want to do soon?
Hike Panorama Ridge or be on a boat in the harbor, I’ve gone paddle boarding but I want to go on a boat.
Who’s one celebrity you’d most like to meet?
What’s your favourite genre of music?
Rap, hip/hop, and a bit of Indie music as well.
Who’s your favourite music artist?
What’s your favourite TV show?
Game of Thrones.