Schöpf looks back on whirlwind year while setting sights on 2023

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Alessandro Schöpf found himself with a decision to make.

He had finished the Bundesliga season with Arminia Bielefeld in Germany, and his wife was five months pregnant.

He was undecided on what he would do next.

That was when he heard from an old connection, Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster.

The two were both at FC Schalke from 2016 to 2019, before Schuster came to Vancouver.

It was a successful run for the club that included a second place finish in the Bundesliga in 2017-18 and a run to the knockout round of the UEFA Champions League the following season.

“It was a good thing that Axel was here [in Vancouver] already,” tells Schopf. “I had a good time at Schalke when he was there, so my first contact at the club was with him.”

Crossing the waters was something that Schöpf and his wife had previously thought about.

“My wife and I were talking that one day I would like to go to MLS and see soccer in North America, see how the style to play is, see how the quality is. So it was earlier in my mind.”

Conversations progressed, and the 28-year-old Bundesliga and Austrian national team veteran decided that the time was right, seeing the vision that the club had.

“They showed me a plan they have with me, what role I can play with this team.”

A new adventure

In August of 2022 Schöpf officially signed with the ‘Caps, and a new adventure began.

But his wife Julia was in Germany, due with their first child in September.

“For sure it was stressful,” remembers Schopf. “She was pregnant, and a big move like that is not easy. It was a big step for us. You come here, you know nobody, but the club helped us a lot with everything. They helped make it comfortable and easier.”

While adjusting to a new country off the pitch, Schopf also had to adjust to a new team and league.

“I had no preseason, so the first training sessions were hard. This kind of style to come in a team in midseason, I’d never done before. But all of the team made it really easy for me to come in the team and they helped me a lot, also the staff.”

A first taste of MLS

Schöpf ended up playing in seven games after his debut at LA Galaxy on August 13, making five starts.

He immediately noticed a change from the leagues of his past.

“Physically, it’s a different style of play. In Germany and Europe it’s more technical, and here is more physical with big and strong players. We train here differently than I’d done before. We have a lot of gym sessions. It’s different for me, but I hope to increase it.”

And he enjoyed the atmosphere at BC Place, seeing how the crowd spurred the team on at the end of the season as the ‘Caps won their final three home matches.

“For me, fans are always important. This is what makes the game so beautiful.”

The family grows

On September 29, Alessandro and Julia welcomed the new member of their family, baby boy Romeo.

“It’s an amazing feeling when you hold your baby in your hands, you can look at him 24/7. He could do nothing, but it’s a wonder. For me, it’s the best feeling to have as a human being.”

With his family settled, he’s focused on the task at hand with his new club.

Describing himself as a “connector between lines”, Schopf is now looking forward to a full preseason to get ready for 2023.

“I want to show my best side here.”