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Vancouver Whitecaps to call Rio Tinto Stadium home to start 2021

The club will train at America First Field and call our stadium home to start 2021.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Real Salt Lake Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

COVID-19 has put a league like Major League Soccer in a slightly awkward position. With multiple Canadian teams on the books, and with travel between Canada and the U.S. still seeing significant restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing apace, a few teams were left floating in an awkward no-mans-land.

One of those teams, Vancouver Whitecaps, now has a temporary home base here in Salt Lake County. A press release from Real Salt Lake confirmed speculation that had been ongoing for several weeks.

The Whitecaps will be using locker room space vacated by the departure of Utah Royals FC at Rio Tinto Stadium. They’ll be hosting their home matches at the stadium, and they’ll be training at America First Field.

There’s no initial word if the Whitecaps will have the opportunity to play in front of fans, but I, for one, think it would be pretty cool to take in a double-header at the stadium, supposing it’s safe to do so.

There’s also no indication of the length of stay. This is expected, with the nature of the pandemic and pandemic-related restrictions remaining fluid.

From the RSL press release, RSL interim president John Kimball:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused everyone around the world to open their arms to their neighbors in a time of need. As such, we are proud to welcome Vancouver Whitecaps FC to Utah for the start of the 2021 season. We are fortunate to have the facilities and infrastructure in place to successfully host the club and look forward to the opportunity to ensure that the Whitecaps can feel at home in our city and our stadium. Utah is the State of Sport and this is another in a long list of great examples of how our community is such a great place for athletes - even when they are our direct competitors - to put their feats on display. It is a privilege that another Major League Soccer team can call Salt Lake City home, even if only temporarily and we are prepared to host Whitecaps FC as long as is necessary.”

Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC CEO and sporting director

“We are very thankful to John Kimball and the entire Real Salt Lake organization for welcoming us into their family, their facilities, and providing a home away from home. We will have a first-class set-up in Utah including an exclusive training pitch, gym and locker room.”