The Vancouver Whitecaps are coming off their 4-0 demolition of Toronto FC on Saturday night. After the matchday, they launched themselves into first place in the Western Conference and second in the MLS Supporters Shield standings with a point behind the New York Red Bulls.

It is still early and the playoffs and Decision Day are still months away. However, it is safe to say the Whitecaps are making a statement. Vancouver is proving that they are one of the best teams in MLS and should not be taken lightly.

The best team in Canada

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini talked about how his team deserves more respect and is tired of proving that they are the best team in Canada.

“We showed we are the best Canadian team and we have been the best Canadian team for the last two or three years,” he said after the win over Toronto FC. “Unfortunately, I don’t know why we need to remind it every time but it’s true. It’s by far the truth. I’m really happy we did it today. So I hope that this also goes to our Canadian media, to OneSoccer or whatever, just to know that we are the best and deservedly so.”

Sartini is right, especially after CF Montreal’s 5-0 defeat to the Seattle Sounders. Montreal did finish second Eastern Conference in 2022 but since then, it has not been close. The Whitecaps won their second straight Canadian Championship and were the only Canadian team to make the playoffs last season.

The Whitecaps and the Eastern Bias

Sartini’s little jab at Canadian media and OneSoccer made the rounds on Twitter. For years, the Whitecaps were seen as an afterthought by Canadian media and there was a lot of love for Toronto FC and even CF Montreal. To be fair, years ago the Whitecaps weren’t a good team, but now the tables have turned.

Say what you want about OneSoccer and their takes but they are doing an excellent job of covering Canadian soccer from MLS to the national teams to the Canadian Premier League and more. Keep in mind, Sartini wasn’t dissing OneSoccer but was saying he hopes they know the Whitecaps are the best team in the country.

The OneSoccer team responded to Sartini’s comments on Monday and they took it like a compliment. They also reminded everyone that they are buying in on the Whitecaps.

The Whitecaps have put Canadian media on notice but what about the big MLS media people out the Eastern Time Zone in the United States Whitecaps fans have not been kind to them in the last few months. Examples include the MLS media out East not acknowledging Ryan Gauld’s MVP-Calibre 2023 season (The Whitecaps even sent them Gauld MVP hats) and their predictions of where the team will finish before this season.

The Whitecaps have been a victim of the Eastern Bias. It is hard for people out East to stay up late to watch the games but some of the above predictions were pretty ridiculous and are already aging like milk.

The eastern bias exists not only for the Whitecaps but also for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite captain Quinn Hughes having a monster of a season, there are some people outside of the Vancouver market that think Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche should win the Norris Trophy for best defenceman.

Maybe it is a Vancouver thing for the Eastern Bias.

Whitecaps need to continue to prove they are the best

Despite this, the Whitecaps’ job is far from finished. Up next is the Los Angeles Galaxy who are third in the Western Conference. Led by Riqui Puig and Dejan Jovelic, this will be a big test for the Whitecaps as the Galaxy will be the best opponent they will face at this point. It will be a battle of first and second in the wild, wild, west.

Vancouver needs to continue to prove to their fans and the media across North America that they are the real deal. A win over the Galaxy will help that narrative.

Of course, it won’t be easy and that statement is true for the rest of the season.

“I don’t want to talk about fighting for the title,” said defender Ranko Veselinovic after the win over Toronto. “Right now, we have to take it game by game.”

Taking it game by game is what the ‘Caps have to do. Not only to show people out east and down south that they are the real deal but to prove to their fans and the people in Vancouver that this Whitecaps team is different.