Major League Soccer and Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced that Whitecaps FC will open the 2021 season playing its home matches in Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Due to the travel restrictions currently in place between the U.S. and Canada because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canadian club will train at America First Field in Sandy and play home matches at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“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,” Real Salt Lake Interim President John Kimball said. “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.”
In order to comply with COVID-19 protocols, Vancouver will make its base at Rio Tinto Stadium, utilizing locker room space previously used by Utah Royals FC, train at America First Field and utilize its own parking area and entrance to the stadium. Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, will remain at its practice facility at the Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman, Utah. Whitecaps FC will play its first home matches of the season at Rio Tinto Stadium, starting with its season-opener against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, April 18 at 8 p.m. MT.
“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,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC CEO and sporting director. “We will have a first-class set-up in Utah including an exclusive training pitch, gym and locker room.”
Vancouver is the third Canadian club to announce a temporary home in the U.S. for the start of the 2021 season. Toronto FC will train in Orlando and play home games in Orlando and Tampa, while CF Montreal will train in Fort Lauderdale and play home games at Inter Miami CF Stadium.
RSL kicks off the 2021 season on the road against Minnesota United FC on Saturday, April 24 and will play its home opener on Saturday, May 1 at Rio Tinto Stadium against rival Sporting Kansas City.