VANCOUVER, BC - Imagine moving to a new country, experiencing a new culture and not knowing a single word of a new language.
Imagine leaving your family and friends behind, not knowing when you’ll be able to see them again.
Imagine doing all of the above at the tender age of 19.
That is exactly what Whitecaps FC attacking midfielder Pedro Vite had to go through over the last year after joining the ‘Caps via transfer from Ecuadorian side Independiente Del Valle in August 2021.
The native of Babahoyo, Ecuador arrived in Vancouver two months later. With the 2021 season nearing to a close, he was made to wait until February of this year to make his ‘Caps debut as he came off the bench in the MLS regular season opener against Columbus Crew.
Since then, the youngster has had to face challenges on and off the pitch that have helped him mature as he navigates his new adventure in Vancouver.
Ever since moving to the city, every morning after he wakes up, Vite gets a ‘good morning’ message from his mom and dad via WhatsApp, constantly reminding him that two of his biggest supporters are always there for him.
“They’re always there supporting me, obviously not every message is the same and they aren’t here with me, but their messages are always present with me throughout the day,” said Vite in his native Spanish.
Not having his parents beside him each day is just one of the many challenges the young Ecuadorian has had to face in his first full season with the ‘Caps.
However, Vite credits his teammates for making the transition much easier, despite the language barrier.
“My teammates helped me a lot with my adaptation, which was very essential here in Vancouver,” said Vite.
“It’s my first time being on a team outside my country and even though sometimes I tell them I can’t speak much English, there’s things I won’t understand but I’ll always be there to support them, they’re also always supporting on social media with a photo or a text so it’s a very close, mutual support we have for all of us that motivates and brings the best out of us."
The team has even gone on to call the Ecuadorian, 'Peter', given its similarity to Pedro.
Vite’s fellow Latino comrades have also been a big part of filling the gap left by his parents.
“Dájome, Guti, and Caio when he was here, have all made it feel like they’re my parents because since they’re older than me, they pretty much took me as their son,” explained Vite.
“They understood me in a lot of ways, and they’ve made me feel very welcomed.”
In addition to his teammates, Vite also had two motivating factors that kept him going during his first year living away from home.
The first was his personal psychologist from Ecuador, Victor Guaman.
"He would call me everyday, even though he's very far, and I would tell him my thoughts, he's helped me a lot," explained Vite.
The second motivating factor, and part of the reason why he spent plenty of time with Guaman throughout the season, was the unfortunate passing of his grandmother.
"In the middle of the year, she passed and after that, I felt I had to give something back, she's up there taking care of me and watching me on so I had this motivation to make her happy."
Vite was very close with his grandmother, as she oftentimes would make Ecuadorian meals for him growing up and motivate him to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a professional footballer.
Her passing added to the list of challenges he had to overcome in his first year living away from home.
A new league
It's never easy adapting to a new league and a new style of play.
At the start of the season, Vite realized the amount of physicality in MLS and found out he needed to start working on his build to be able to replicate his playing style at a new level.
“The start of the year cost me a lot because MLS is a very physical league with lots of intensity. Vanni said lots of times that Pedro needs more intensity and when you’re young sometimes you don’t understand things. So little by little, I started to adapt myself, try to work more on my build when we’re doing gym work and in the afternoon, resting more.”
Vite also received plenty of motivation from the team, which in turn brought him confidence that he'd be able to show his skillset in a physical league despite his size and stature.
In July, Vite began to see his hard work pay off, as he recorded his first MLS assist on Lucas Cavallini's header against Minnesota United FC at BC Place.
At the end of the season, Vite started the 'Caps last five MLS regular season matches, and was rewarded with some pretty special moments.
On September 14, Vite scored his first 'Caps goal against LA Galaxy and dedicated his goal to his mom, who happened to be celebrating her birthday on that same day.
"I started my day as I usually do and I was manifesting scoring the goal for my mom on her birthday because I've always had to celebrate it away from her due to football," explained Vite.
"When the chance came [to celebrate the goal], a lot of things came to mind, my mom, my grandmother. My mom didn't know I'd dedicate the goal to her so after the game I called her and she picked up the phone crying but for me it was a really special moment to dedicate that goal for her on her birthday."
Three days later, Vite tapped home his second goal after some swift build-up play from the 'Caps.
In the end, Vite recorded two goals as well as two assists in 14 starts and 24 appearances across all competitions, while also being named being named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 31.
Now that he's had a year under his belt in Vancouver, matured in a new league, and learnt plenty of valuable lessons, Vite has high aspirations for next season, as he hopes to build off his strong end to 2022.
“I’ve learned a lot this year. I’ve learnt how to live alone, how to motivate myself and to push for what you want most, which for me is to win and next year, what I want most is to score goals, record a lot of assists and get to the playoffs and help this club reach the next level.”
Be sure to catch Vite and the rest of the ‘Caps in 2023 as they compete in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 against Honduran side Real CD España, with the first leg being played on Wednesday, March 8 at BC Place. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT. The Holiday Pack is available now, including the MLS home opener, the CCL match, and the second MLS home match of the season.
Player Profile Series
- Tristan Blackmon keeps an even keel
- Thomas Hasal embraces opportunities for club and country
- Brian White motivated to get back to his best
- Andrés Cubas adjusting to new life in Vancouver
- Sebastian Berhalter finds prosperity
- Ranko Veselinović keeps eyes on Serbia
- Luís Martins discovers unexpected Portuguese connection