‘High-level chance creator’: Why the ‘Caps went all hands on deck in pursuit of Ryan Gauld

Ryan Gauld web story2

After months of recruitment and pursuit involving several members of the club’s soccer operations team from executives, coaches, recruitment, and administrative, Whitecaps FC put pen to paper, officially announcing the acquisition of Scottish attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld as a Designated Player.

Shortly after the ink was dry, Whitecaps FC director of recruitment Nikos Overheul sat down with whitecapsfc.com to share the coaches and recruitment department’s vision of how Gauld fits with the other pieces on the ‘Caps roster and what supporters can expect from one of the landmark acquisitions in club history.

Congrats on landing long-coveted target Ryan Gauld. What makes him special?

Firstly, this was an entire club effort.

There are a number of staff members who were already familiar with Ryan Gauld from his time in Portugal and Scotland. During the last off-season, his name was put forward as a strong option for the open attacking midfielder position and the more we learned about Ryan, the more we were convinced he fit our profile very well.

The main quality that Ryan will bring to our team is high-level chance creation. He has great vision and can create from all spots in the final third. Ryan’s equally adept at playing through balls as he is at crossing the ball and will be able to provide service to all our attackers. 

The ‘Caps have one of the youngest rosters in MLS, with speed along the wings. How does the team see the pieces fitting, especially on the attack?

Ryan is a high-energy player and he will increase the tempo of our offense. His direct dribbling will put pressure on opposition defenses and create more space for our other attackers and midfielders. We expect Ryan to pitch in with a few goals too. His off-ball runs into the box regularly cause a lot of danger and our wide players can create chances for him as well.

His abilities on the offensive side of the ball have been well-documented. What are other elements to his game that impressed the club as well?

From the start, we knew it was very important for our Designated Player to be a leader on the pitch. We have a young team and our stars need to set the culture of the team. It’s therefore not enough just to be a skillful player. Our attacking midfielder needs to defend from the front and lead the press. Our strikers Lucas Cavallini and Brian White already do this and we wanted to reinforce this. Gauld’s defensive work is exceptional for a player in his position and he fits this part of our profile particularly well. 

Ryan will be joining the team while the ‘Caps are right in the thick of things in the season. How does the team envision Ryan’s adjustment into MLS?

Ryan's skill at being a playmaker in transition is going to be even more valuable in MLS than in the Portuguese league. MLS is more open than Liga NOS and Ryan will simply get a lot more transition opportunities than he did at Farense. 

It’s no secret now that the ‘Caps had him at the top of their list throughout the transfer process. What set him apart from the rest?

We feel confident that Ryan Gauld will help us in all phases of the game. He will help with his creativity, his transition ability, and his defensive work rate. Everyone at the club understood how important that position is for the team and we wanted to get it right. With Ryan we did and we are very glad he’s with us.