“It’s something I’ve always had aspirations for.”
Those were the words of Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Theo Bair after receiving the call-up to John Herdman’s squad for Canada’s January training camp in California, along with teammates Maxime Crépeau, Derek Cornelius, Russell Teibert, and Tosaint Ricketts.
After a breakout year, those aspirations are now a reality and it’s no surprise to see Bair given his first opportunity with the senior team.
“To play for my national team is so huge for me,” says Bair.
The camp has gotten off to a great start for Bair and Canada as the team has already registered two 4-1 wins over Barbados on January 7 and January 10.
In the first of those 4-1 wins Bair came on to play the last 20 minutes and promptly scored six minutes into his senior international debut.
“It makes me and my family super proud to represent my country, and I’m humbled by the call,” says Bair.
After coming through the Whitecaps FC Academy, Bair broke into the first team last year and was quick to impress. He finished the season with two goals and two assists in 10 starts and 17 appearances. His combined goal and assist total is the highest for a ‘Caps Homegrown player in their debut MLS season.
Whitecaps FC player development and academy recruitment director Craig Dalrymple feels the timing is just right for Bair to receive his first senior call-up.
“He’s put his head down and worked hard,” noted Dalrymple. “He grinded through the last 18 months. We’re all really happy for him.”
“This next MLS season is important for him to build on the foundation he laid last year. I think he’s in a much better place this January than what he was last January. And if I know Theo well, next January, I think he’ll be in an even better place.”
Part of Bair’s breakout season last year was his goal during Vancouver’s Week 23 match against Portland. His acrobatic volley from the edge of the box was voted WFC Goal of the Year as well as being a finalist for the best goal of the season in the league's year-end honours.
“It was Alphonso [Davies] two years ago and now it’s Theo. Hopefully there’s more that will follow in his footsteps,” added Dalrymple on Bair's breakout season.
Bair says he is motivated to be a part of a golden era for Canadian soccer.
“I want to be part of this generation of Canadian footballers. The ones that will make history together and that have already started making names for themselves around the globe. This is another step toward that, and I am beyond excited.”
Bair has a chance to get another cap for his country when Canada plays their final match of the camp when they line up against Iceland later today. Watch online at canadasoccer.com.