The Vancouver Whitecaps got the welcome news they'd been awaiting on Thursday. They are going home to Canada to play out the remainder of their home schedule at BC Place Stadium, where they haven't played a single game all season due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
But first, one last game as the "home" team at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, where the Whitecaps will host Minnesota United on Saturday night.
Government agencies in Canada have approved a National Interest Exemption, which comes with strict health and safety protocols allowing for all Major League Soccer players to participate in cross-border matches.
Following the Minnesota game are three true road matches before the official return to Vancouver, but it's an exciting time for the team. And Vancouver (3-7-5, 14 points) is playing better of late, with a win and two draws in its last three games.
"Vancouver is our home and we were thrilled to return to our training center at the start of this week," Axel Schuster, the Whitecaps' CEO and sporting director, told the team website. "We now have four important road matches and everyone is excited to finally get a run of home games and play in front of our faithful supporters at BC Place."
Minnesota United has lost just once in its last 11 matches, with six wins and four draws. The Loons (6-5-4, 22 points) are in sixth place in the Western Conference. Midfielder Robin Lod, with four goals to lead the team, has two goals and an assist in the past three games.
A Hassani Dotson goal just before the final whistle earned Minnesota United a 2-2 draw with Los Angeles FC on Wednesday night in California.
"This season we've had good play but with the first four losses that we took, we looked at each other and we realized that we needed to play with a little more grit, little more energy," Dotson said. "That's showed in the last two results coming back. ... The mentality has been 'it's not over until it's over' and keep fighting and keep pushing and do your best and the rest will take care of itself."
--Field Level Media