Vancouver Whitecaps huddle

Vancouver Whitecaps FC will return home for training during the final week of July as COVID-related travel restrictions between the United States and Canada ease, the club announced Wednesday.

The ‘Caps will return to Vancouver on July 25 and resume training at the Whitecaps FC National Soccer Development Centre on July 27. Due to the ongoing pandemic, they’ve set up shop stateside and played home games at Rio Tinto Stadium, which is Real Salt Lake’s soccer-specific venue in Sandy, Utah.

With the move, Vancouver will play nine of their final 15 regular-season games as home matches. It’s yet to be announced when they’ll formally return to BC Place, the club’s normal home ground, and they’re slated to play at “home” against Minnesota United FC on July 31 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Their July 28 "home" game against Austin FC has been moved to September 4.

The league and club continue to work with government officials on a National Interest Exemption for continued play in Canada. BC Place is committed to other events through July.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the prospect of returning to Vancouver,” Vancouver CEO and sporting director Axel Schuster said in a release. “We always understood that first the situation in our community has to change into a positive for everyone and for that we will be forever grateful to all our frontline heroes, who work tirelessly to keep British Columbians safe.”

Just last weekend, CF Montréal and Toronto FC made their returns to Stade Saputo and BMO Field, respectively. The league’s other two Canadian clubs were competing in Florida due to the aforementioned travel restrictions.

Vancouver currently sit 11th in the Western Conference standings and have accumulated a 3W-7L-4D record while being unable to return to British Columbia. They’re led by head coach Marc dos Santos and have a negative-9 goal differential, which is the worst total in the Western Conference. But with the potential for a home-heavy second half of the season, Vancouver certainly could climb the table.