The Vancouver Whitecaps were looking for a player like Ryan Gauld for years. Almost two years ago, the player once known as “Scottish Messi” signed for the Whitecaps from Portuguese club Farense for a 300,000 Euro fee. Gauld became a Designated Player which means his salary can exceed the salary cap.
“He is a difference maker, brings experience, as well as an exceptional work rate, all qualities we identified as being key characteristics that we need in this position,” said Whitecaps Sporting Director and CEO Axel Schuster on Gauld in the official announcement.
The Whitecaps needed a creative attacking midfielder and Gauld fit the profile. With Farense in the 2020-21 season, Gauld lead the Primeira Liga in key passes per game, expected assists, and shot opportunities created. He lead Farense in goals with nine and was ninth in the Primeira Liga. Gauld’s seven assists also put him in sixth in the Primeira Liga that season. He did all this while Farense got relegated to Liga Portugal 2.
Gauld came to Vancouver with expectations as high as the Scottish Highlands. However, he was determined to deliver.
I’d like to say, first of all, whenever I play, I leave everything that I can on the pitch,” he said in his introductory press conference. “I’ll give everything that I’ve got to the team. Then, hopefully, I can show my creative side, help create opportunities, score some goals for the club and help turn a few draws into wins.”
Two years later and it is safe to say Gauld was true to his words. When he’s on the pitch, he gives everything and he has exceeded expectations as a DP. The Flying Scotsman, as I like to call him, has shown he is an excellent passer and playmaker, can score goals and can even help out defensively. When he is on the pitch, Gauld, along with Andrés Cubas, has a lot of impact.
This past week, Gauld managed a goal and an assist in the 3-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday night and assisted on Sergio Córdova’s first goal as a Whitecap against Austin FC on Wednesday night.
As a result, Gauld was named to the MLS team of the matchday for the fifth time this season. Just look at his pass to Córdova. It is a work of art.
With that assist, Gauld earned his sixth assist of the season. That was also Gauld’s 26th assist as a member of the Whitecaps, in all competitions. That ties the Whitecaps all-time assist record in all competitions in the MLS era which ties Pedro Morales. Like Gauld, Morales was a creative attacking midfielder and like Gauld, wore the captain’s armband.
It is pretty impressive to see that Gauld is one assist away from taking the throne as the king of the deliveries. Yes, the Whitecaps have only existed in MLS for just over 12 seasons and they have not had much success, but it is still quite impressive.
Not since Morales have the Whitecaps had a midfielder that is creative and exciting to watch. Gauld brings those aspects and he brings high work rate and intensity as he is often seen tracking back and tackling.
Is Gauld one of the Whitecaps best in the MLS era?
When you think of the best Whitecaps of the MLS who do you think of? Morales, Camilo, Alphonso Davies, Mathias Laba, Kendall Waston and David Ousted come to mind. (All all-time Whitecaps Starting XI article could happen from this author in the future)
But should Gauld be up there? At this point, why not? He is one assist away from breaking the club record and his 20 goals in all competitions is 10th on the list.
Yes, the bar isn’t very high and there is not much competition but Gauld has to be up there in terms of the Whitecaps best in the MLS era.
In three seasons, Gauld has averaged 0.58 goals plus assists per game according to Football Reference. To put that in perspective, other Whitecaps of the past that have played three seasons and averaged over 0.50 in goals plus assists per game include Morales (0.64) and Camilo. (0.71)
Of course, Gauld isn’t finished yet. His numbers are going to go up.
Whitecaps fans haven’t had much to cheer about since they came into MLS in 2011. But when Gauld is on the pitch, he brings the fans out of their seats.
You could say he deserved an all-star selection but what he really deserves is some caps for the Scottish national team. It’s criminal that he hasn’t got a look.
Gauld’s contract is up at the end of 2024. Perhaps an extension for the Whitecaps DP should be talked about sooner rather than later.
The Whitecaps will need Gauld to give his all as they continue their push to the MLS Cup Playoffs and will compete in the brand new Leagues Cup over the next month starting next week.