Ryan Raposo was constantly being mentioned on Twitter during and after he and the Vancouver Whitecaps drew 1-1 against Charlotte FC. It was for both good and bad reasons.

He scored the Whitecaps’ only goal and if you only saw the box score, you would think he had a good game. But like the rest of the team, Raposo and the ‘Caps started very slow. They couldn’t generate any offensive chances and Charlotte’s press were suffocating them.

Raposo gave the ball away by trying to do a no-look back heel pass but gave the ball away to Ashley Westwood. On the ensuing Charlotte attack, Iuni Tavares made Raposo and the Whitecaps pay for their mistake.

“I think the elephant in the room maybe people don’t want to ask me about, is their first goal and obviously me giving away the ball,” said Raposo after the game. “I’m seeing it all over Twitter, like C’mon, it’s football, we make mistakes!…but that goal was my fault…but my mindset was, it happens.” 

Learning and growing

“It was a bad ball and the way we kind of build out, we’re vulnerable to those types of situations,” he said. “Us fullbacks, wingbacks, you have to possess the ball and not give it away cheaply like that because if we do, we’re very expanded. You see they won the ball and within a couple of passes, the ball is in the back of the net.”

Raposo turns 25 on Tuesday. He has been with the club since they drafted him in the MLS SuperDraft and has made over 100 appearances. He has been through a lot, both good and bad. Raposo has also transitioned from a winger to a wingback or even as a fullback. He has also learned that he needs to be better defensively.

After his blunder on Saturday, that mindset was even more true. Raposo also talked about how he has matured and grown over the years since joining the Whitecaps.

“I think maybe a couple of years ago, I think I would have lost my head after that,” he said. “Like put my head down and been like, you know, ‘that’s obviously my fault’ and maybe had a rough rest of the game. But honestly, the goal went in and my mindset was like: it happens. I’m going to continue to dribble at guys, I’m gonna continue to be active in the final third, I’m gonna continue to play my game.”

In soccer, like any sport, bad moments can define a player’s game. However, players can redeem themselves. In stoppage time, Raposo managed to be on the end of a beautiful pass from Pedro Vite and his deflection fooled Charlotte goalkeeper Kristian Kahlina.

That was Raposo’s first goal in MLS play in almost two years. His last was in a 3-3 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes on May 14, 2022. Raposo’s last goal was on March 8, 2023, almost a year ago. That was during the Whitecaps 5-0 win over Real CD España in what was then called the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

“A goal is a goal, I’ll take it,” said Raposo on his goal. “It doesn’t matter how it goes in. It matters that it does go in. I meant to put it back across the goal, and it trickled in. I think he was cheating because he saw that there were two guys open in the middle. He was already going through the middle and … I don’t really care, to be honest with you.”

Becoming a leader

Raposo once being one of the younger guys on the team himself, is passing on the torch. While the student hasn’t exactly become the teacher yet, Raposo has become one of the team’s veterans.

“I think the guys see me as that, especially the younger guys,” he said when asked about becoming a leader. “I feel like I’m at the age and experience, [where I’m] the bridge between the younger guys and the more experienced guys. So I feel like the younger guys feel comfortable to come and ask me questions for stuff on the field and off the field. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of the system we play…I see myself as one of the leaders on the team and it is something I take pride in.”

It feels like yesterday since Raposo was a young guy. Where did the time go?

Raposo and the Whitecaps will hope to learn from their mistakes against Charlotte and will head down to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes this Saturday. Kickoff is at 7:40 pm Pacific.