EDITORIAL – Being drafted fourth overall in the 2020 MLS Super Draft, winger Ryan Raposo had an unorthodox rookie season with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Bouncing between Vancouver, Orlando and Portland, it could have been a smoother entry for the Ontario native. Luckily for him, Vancouver was in the middle of a rebuild, and he wasn’t a centrepiece of the project. He was able to slide into the team and get comfortable with no immediate pressure for results. The team wasn’t going to rely on him to win games and change the mentality of the club. Nor were they giving him a day one starting job.
Ryan Raposo Discusses the Start to his Career in Q&A
Fifteen appearances and one season later, Ryan Raposo is set to enter his second season with the club. I sat down with Ryan Raposo to chat about his rookie year, his offseason, and what lays ahead for him.
How has your offseason been so far?
It’s been nice to come home and see my family and friends. This year was the longest that I’ve ever been away from home, so it was nice to come back, especially around the holidays. We actually got a new addition to the family, we got a little puppy for Christmas which we’re super excited about. In terms of football, I picked up an injury in preseason (2020) and was struggling throughout the year, especially in the later parts.
Having the break and the quarantine and then going right back into it, it’s just kind of been on and off. I struggled a lot physically, so this offseason has been about two sessions a day, plus physiology, to get my body right for 2021.
What was your injury? What had happened?
It’s a lower back injury which lingered throughout the year. It still is there a bit, but we’re working on it.
Another big takeaway from my chat with @RyanRaposo7 , was that he picked up a lower back injury before the 2020 season started. It apparently got worse towards the end of the year, and still hasn’t completely gone away despite receiving treatment…#VWFC pic.twitter.com/cDfFtLg8fQ
— Ben Righetti (@RighettiBen) January 27, 2021
How will this year’s preseason be different from last year, your rookie year?
I’ll definitely be more prepared physically and mentally because I know the standards are higher within the club and what the trainers expect. And I’ll be more comfortable. When I came in last year I was living in a hotel up until March. Whether that was travelling for preseason or in Vancouver, I was living in a hotel. Now that I’ve got my place, when I get back to Vancouver I get to settle in much quicker.
Are you able to give me your opinion on the CBA situation that’s going on right now?
I’m not too knowledgeable on the situation, you’d have to ask someone who is more involved like Jake (Nerwinski) or Andy (Rose). But from a player’s aspect and in my personal opinion, I just want to get back to playing again and get back to work.
Playing in the Toronto FC youth system and growing up in Ontario, what was it like for you to be brought on at BMO Field but wearing a Whitecaps jersey?
It was awesome. I remember my first time at BMO Field, I was actually a ball boy. I remember looking onto that field saying to myself “one day I’m going to play professionally and play here in front of family and friends”. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any fans there, but even when that game was scheduled at the start of the year, my family and friends bought about 300 tickets, so there would have been a whole supporters group. So I was really looking forward to that, but still, playing at BMO Field was a great experience.
When you first joined the team, was there any specific veteran player that sort of took you under their wing?
There was a couple guys, but the ones that I think of off the top of my head, definitely Tosaint Ricketts. He plays in an attacking role like me, so I remember in my first couple sessions him talking to me. He’s an older guy so he has lots of experience and really helped me. Also throughout the year, Andy Rose as well. He’s a really good leader and a nice guy, someone who you can talk to about any issue you have. Whether that’s football or life off the pitch.
Speaking of Andy Rose, he just signed a contract extension for this year, plus will be a part-time coach for the U-19 academy team. Do you think that’s a good fit then?
Yea that fits him perfectly for sure. He will still be with us, but he will also be with the U-19’s. That’s what he wants to do after his football career, is get into coaching. So I feel like this is a great chance for him to start coaching.
Just finished off an interview with @RyanRaposo7 , who brought up the leadership of Ricketts and Rose in his rookie year. Then on the topic of Rose becoming an academy AC, he said it’s a perfect fit.
— Ben Righetti (@RighettiBen) January 27, 2021
What advice would Ryan Raposo give David Egbo, Javain Brown, and the rest of the players drafted in the Super Draft as we near preseason?
I actually know Egbo a bit, I’ve played against him before. Him and I were roommates at the combine, and we talked at the airport before heading home. Really nice kid. My advice to them would be to come in ready, come in fresh mentally and physically. Preseason is meant to challenge you in different areas. Physically, you’re training twice a day, then go back to a hotel and try rest up. So yea, I’d tell them to just be ready for it.
For living in Orlando and in Portland, what were the toughest parts of it all? And were there any times or moments that made life feel normal in the midst of it?
Something that made it feel normal was that there were restaurants in the resorts. We were used to the food that we were getting in Orlando, the chicken, pasta, the basics. Some nights we were able to go to a restaurant and dine in, and it felt nice to sit there and be in a different environment with different varieties of food to choose from.
But in terms of how comfortable I was, it wasn’t too bad for me because I was used to living on my own in Vancouver. It was definitely tougher for guys with families, like Cristian Dájome (who wasn’t able to see his family for months who lived in Colombia due to VISA complications). I can see that being tough for the older guys with girlfriends, wives and families back at home.
Back to soccer, do you have a preferred side to play on? We saw you on both the left and right wings in 2020, so you seem comfortable on both.
I honestly feel equally as comfortable on each side. I tend to play more on the left which I’m cool with cos I like to cut in. But really, either side I feel pretty comfortable with.
Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?
I probably do but nothing that I can really think of. I always shower, and I have to nap. Even if it’s only 5 0r 10 minutes, just to close my eyes and relax. That’s all I can think of right now.
What’s an added bonus or perk that comes with being a professional soccer player that you’ve found or enjoyed?
A perk? Just being a professional footballer, it’s amazing. It’s always been my dream to do what I’m doing right now, it’s awesome. I get to play a sport I love every day and get paid for it, that’s a perk in itself.
What would a successful season look like for the Whitecaps in 2021?
You see what they’re doing, signing players and what the front office is doing. We’re definitely pushing for playoffs. That’s really go to be a given this year, and even more. Personally, I’m going to set the bar even higher, and all the players and the coaching staff want to shoot higher, so I would say that playoffs are a bare minimum this year. We have to get there.
And what about you personally, what would be a successful season for Ryan Raposo?
Of course, I set personal goals. I don’t get too caught up in the goals and the assists, but that is very important obviously in the position that I play. But if I can help the team in any way to reach the team’s goals, that would be awesome. But of course, scoring and assists is big time and I’m going to shoot for that.
Finally, what’s your message to the fans? Maybe something they don’t know about you or what they should expect in the future from you?
I’m actually a really shy guy. I’ve been told I run like a maniac and it may look like I have a crazy personality, but off the field, I’m pretty sure and keep to myself. In terms of what the fans can expect of me, 120% at all times. And I’m not lying when I say that. You see a lot of people saying “blah blah blah”, but form me, I expect that from myself, and I do it for myself, my family, and of course the fans. So yea, for as long as I’m here, fans can expect my foot on the gas at all times.