On Tuesday, Vancouver Whitecaps fans got a Christmas present.

No, it wasn’t a new signing, those will come in January. The club announced their 2023 regular season schedule.  Let’s break down the Whitecaps’ schedule.

Starting at home

It made sense the Whitecaps would start their season at home after starting on the road last season. They will welcome Real Salt Lake to BC Place on Saturday, February 25. The Whitecaps beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 at BC Place last June and played a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium (Now called America First Field which is a terrible name) in August.

Home start times

The game against Real Salt Lake and all but two home games will start at 7:30 PM Pacific. Now, this is kind of disappointing, especially for fans with young children as the games will end at around 9:30. Good luck to the MLS fans out east too. 

The only home games that will not start at 7:30 are on March 11 against FC Dallas (starts at 2 PM) and on October 21, which is MLS Decision Day against defending champions LAFC on October 21. (Time is TBD though I swear it said 4:00 PM at one point when I opened the schedule)

I kind of wish the Whitecaps followed suit with the Lions and had more 4 PM starts, especially in the summer. But that isn’t up to them to decide as a lot of MLS western games start at 7:30. It looks like it was the league’s decision.

Away games

The Whitecaps just won two games on the road last season, which is terrible. Next season, it is clear they have to do a lot better on the road to have any hope of making the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Whitecaps’ first road game will be in San Jose to take on the Earthquakes on March 4. (That is also a 7:30 start.) Vancouver will be playing four of their first ten MLS games on the road. It’s nice to have a lot of games to start the season at home and that could help them get off to a better start than last season. However, as tough as away games are in MLS, getting points on the road early could be vital for a playoff push.

Wednesday games

The Whitecaps play on Wednesday seven times in 2023. Four of those will be on the road and three will be at BC Place. Last season, Vancouver played on Wednesday four times. That was three at home and one on the road, though it felt like way more than that.

Wednesday games at BC Place tend to bring fewer fans because it is a workday after all. BC Place looks emptier than the Ethihad Stadium during mid-week games.

Whitecaps games to watch

There are plenty of games to circle on the calendar.

First of all, there is the Cascadia Cup games against the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The Whitecaps will play the Sounders three times. Two of them will be at BC Place on May 20 and July 8. They will play at Lumen Field on the penultimate weekend of the regular season on October 7.

The Timbers come to town on April 8. The Whitecaps will play the Timbers at Providence Park twice. Those will be on May 13 and August 26 respectively. That is a tough place for any opponent in MLS and the Whitecaps have had their share of defeats at Providence Park.

We can’t forget about the games against the other two Canadian teams. CF Montreal will come to town on April Fools Day. Maybe they’ll wear the wrong kits as an April Fools prank or something.

The meeting with Lorenzo Insigne and Toronto FC will be at BMO Field on September 16. Twitter content will be great for that one.

There are also some firsts on the schedule.

The Whitecaps will play New York City FC at Yankee Stadium for the first time on September 2. Well, it is going to be tough for the Whitecaps to play on a pitch that is worse than BC Place’s turf. The MLB schedule hasn’t been released yet and the start time is TBD. September is when the pennant races heat up in Baseball and we will see the outline of the diamond on the broadcast. Luckily NYCFC is finally getting a new soccer-specific stadium in Queens…but it won’t open until 2027.

St. Louis SC is the new kid on the block in MLS and the Whitecaps will face them twice. The first will be at the state-of-the-art Citypark in St. Louis on May 27 and the second will be at BC Place on October 10. Former Whitecaps defenders Tim Parker and Jake Nerwinski are now part of St Louis SC and will suit up against their former club.

The Whitecaps will also visit Soldier Field for the first time when they play the Chicago Fire on August 30. FC Cincinnati will make their first visit to Vancouver on June 10 and Julian Gressel will face his former team, DC United on September 30 at BC Place. DC United will, of course, be led by head coach Wayne Rooney and that alone could draw a big crowd.

It was a big crowd for the last time when DC United was at BC Place which was on August 17, 2019. Rooney was a player for DC at the time and Yordy Reyna scored the only goal in a 1-0 Vancouver win.

Cup games

The Whitecaps will be in the CONCACAF Champions League for the third time in their history. They are also in it for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

They will host the first leg against Honduran side Real Espana on March 8 (7 PM start) and the second leg will be on March 15. (3 PM start) Three days later, they will face LA Galaxy in MLS play so schedule and travel will be very tight this season.

If the Whitecaps beat Real Espana, (and they should but with this club, you never know) they will face either LAFC or Costa Rican side LD Alajuelense in the quarterfinals. The first leg will be played somewhere between April 4-6 and the second leg will be played between April 11-13.

Oh yeah, the Whitecaps have the task of defending the Voyageurs Cup. The schedule for those games will be revealed at a later date. It would be huge if they can successfully defend the Canadian Championship given how many years of failure they had in it.

There is also this new thing in MLS that kind of feels like an Apple marketing ploy. The Leagues Cup will take place between all MLS and Liga MX teams. MLS play will stop between July 15 and resume on August 20 for this tournament to happen.

This is a tournament that will determine the best soccer club in North America. It is also another pathway to the CONCACAF Champions League and spots will be given to the finalists and the winner of the third-place game.

So the Whitecaps could play teams like Tigres, Atlas, Club America and CD Guadalajara in this tournament. Expect a lot of physical soccer because these Mexican teams like to play that way.

Schedule is tight

The Whitecaps will have their hands full with four competitions in 2023.

As for the schedule, not every MLS team plays against each other which kind of sucks. The Whitecaps have yet to play Inter Miami. (Which is where World Cup Champions Lionel Messi could go if he decides to leave Paris St-Germain.) They also have yet to visit Atlanta United and play Orlando City SC at home.

Since the Whitecaps have a lot of competition, they better use the January transfer window to upgrade the squad. Depth is important, especially with this many games. The Whitecaps need to find the right players if they want to make the playoffs, defend the Voyageurs Cup and go far in CCL and the Leagues Cup.

It will be a busy season and Whitecaps fans will want a busy transfer window.