'Caps will make Rio Tinto Stadium the club's temporary home stadium to start the seasonMexico and Trinidad & Tibago during the first half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps FC will commence their second decade in Major League Soccer when they host Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers on Sunday, April 18 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live across Canada on TSN and TSN GO.

The ‘Caps will then head to Orlando, Florida for their second match of the season, to face Toronto FC on Saturday, April 24 at Exploria Stadium. The all-Canadian tilt will be live nationally on CTV and TSN at 12 p.m. PT.

“We are looking forward to kicking off the 2021 MLS season against two of our rivals, Portland and Toronto,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC CEO and sporting director. “We will absolutely miss seeing and hearing our fans at BC Place to start the season. Rest assured, our main objective is to play as many of our home games in Vancouver as possible. We’re working very closely with the league and public health officials and look forward to a time when our fans can safely attend matches at BC Place once again.”

MLS announced the home openers for all 27 clubs on Wednesday. The complete regular season schedule, along with the national television schedules for the U.S. and Canada, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Following the first month of the 2021 Training Camp, presented by Enerex, Whitecaps FC will head south to Utah in April to start the MLS regular season. Whitecaps FC will be training at America First Field during their stay in Utah.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, the ‘Caps, along with the other two Canadian MLS clubs in CF Montréal and Toronto FC, will begin the season in the U.S. with each club hosting matches in a U.S. city:

  • CF Montréal: Miami, Florida; Inter Miami CF Stadium
  • Toronto FC: Orlando, Florida; Exploria Stadium
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Sandy, Utah; Rio Tinto Stadium

“We are very thankful to John Kimball and the entire Real Salt Lake organization for welcoming us into their family, their facilities, and providing a home away from home,” added Schuster. “We will have a first-class set-up in Utah including an exclusive training pitch, gym and locker room. Also, special credit to our operations team as this is a monumental undertaking and player care is an important focus at our club.”

For the first time in their MLS history, Whitecaps FC open their season outside of Vancouver. The ‘Caps have had success as of late at Rio Tinto Stadium, winning 2-1 against Real Salt Lake in their only visit last year on September 19. Whitecaps FC rounded out their 2020 season playing their final six home matches at Providence Park in Portland, compiling a 4W-2L-0D record on a temporary home turf. The ‘Caps are 5W-4L-1D in their season openers since joining MLS in 2011.

The season opening clash between the old Cascadia rivals is the latest of a 46-year long history between the two clubs that dates back to 1975. The ‘Caps hold the edge all-time with a 40W-38L-18D record. Last season, the Timbers won both matchups, decided by a lone goal each and both played at Providence Park.

Whitecaps FC and Toronto FC have played each other 13 times in MLS competition, with the ‘Caps holding a 5W-6L-2D record against their fellow Canadian club. In 2020, the cross-country rivals faced each other three times, with the home side winning each time, the first two at BMO Field, and Whitecaps FC winning 3-2 in their memorable return to BC Place on September 5. All-time, Whitecaps FC have a record of 40W-34L-16D against Toronto-based professional soccer clubs, tracing back to the NASL years.

The ‘Caps current roster includes 29 players signed for the 2021 season including 24 returning players, the most since 2017, and five new additions. The team’s youth movement continues into 2021 with 17 players 23-years-old or younger. The roster also features 14 Canadians and 13 different birth countries.