Brian White's Whitecaps legacy has already exceeded that other guy, even if his goals total hasn't

Brian White has the second-most goals in team history. The guy at No. 1 isn’t too far ahead, but his historical standing with the team’s supporters is one coloured by betrayal.

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Try as you may, it’s impossible to get Brian White to say anything controversial when the mics are rolling.

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Fire up the Hot Take Time Machine and you might be able to get the Vancouver Whitecaps’ striker to take a bold stance like … pineapple doesn’t belong on pizza or that toilet paper should go over the front of the roll and not the back.

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It’s not that White is a bland personality or humourless, he’s just more mindful of the fact that he’s not just representing himself, he’s repping an organization, a club, a city.

“I feel like I try to put the right answers out there,” he said Tuesday after training. “You want to portray your best self. Obviously you answer the questions as truthfully as you can, but you also want to respect yourself, respect your teammates, respect your opponents.

“Sometimes there’s some tricky questions out there, they try and get you to say something,” he said with a pointed look, “but you do your best to be respectful of everyone and just answer things truthfully.”

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NEXT GAME

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo

Wednesday, 5:30 p.m. PT, Shell Energy Stadium

TV: Apple TV. Radio: AM730


Another razor-straight answer, no curves or controversy. It’s all down to his media training, he says, though teammate Tristan Blackmon said he would happily help him add some spice to his media interactions.

“I would love to do that. I’ll set up a seminar or something for him. We’ll get after it,” he said laughing. “He’s actually a clown. You have to be closer to him to understand him a little bit more, but he’s a great guy. He definitely has a funny side to him that maybe not everybody gets to see. Definitely top-five best personalities I’ve had in a teammate.”

The White we do see is all business, which makes sense since he’s taking a Harvard Business School program.

His 11 MLS goals lead the team, and his 15 goal involvements is second only to running mate Ryan Gauld (11 G, 9 A) — 10 more than the next player on the Whitecaps’ roster (Simon Becher, 4 G, 1 A).

With his goal against Toronto FC on Saturday, White passed Fredy Montero for second place in team history with 27 MLS goals. He was already second overall, with 34 goals since being traded to Vancouver in June 2021.

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White came to Vancouver when sporting director Axel Schuster snagged him from the New York Red Bulls, where he was languishing on the bench. It cost the Caps a modest bushel of allocation money (US$400,000) to sign a backup for DP forward Lucas Cavallini, but Schuster looked like a Maven after White had 12 goals in 27 games.

The Caps signed White to a four-year extension through 2025 with pay bumps each year in the off-season, and some doubts crept in after the Flemington, N.J., native followed up his first season in Vancouver with a four-goal, one assist 2022 campaign dogged by multiple injury setbacks.

But he’s returned to form in 2023 and is right in the thick of the Golden Boot race. The last Whitecap to be in the running for top scorer in MLS? That would be a certain Brazilian, one whom any Caps’ supporter with Harry Potter fandom crossover would rather utter Voldemort’s name.

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There’s probably a young segment of the team’s following who don’t know Camilo — Blackmon didn’t — even if he’s the all-time leading scorer in team history (43 goals total, 39 in MLS). It’s because the one-time darling has been relegated to a dark corner reserved for players who are considered to have betrayed their club. Camilo bolted for Mexican side Querétaro in 2014 despite Vancouver having picked up his option, a grimy bit of business that hasn’t been forgotten by some.

That won’t happen again, said White. That kind of selfish, entitled behaviour isn’t his style — even if he did go to Duke University.

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily my personality, to turn heel,” said White. “I try to do my best for the club, try to make a lasting impression on the fans and the team, and hopefully so far I’ve done a pretty good job of it.”

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Camilo’s legacy is a tarnished one, while White hopes the only thing that is tarnished after he’s gone is an unpolished trophy in the team’s cabinet.

“As I score more and more goals, you see that you’re coming close to the most goals in club history,” he said. “That’s obviously that’s cool to have as a priority, especially coming in and being seen as a backup, and now being able to write my own story.

“That, plus win trophies,” he said of his legacy. “I think we’ve done OK so far. Two Canadian Cups, Cascadia Cup … hopefully we can turn those into more bigger trophies, like MLS Cups, Concacaf Cups, Leagues Cups … whatever may be. It would be great to add those to the trophy case.”

White has gotten over the homesickness that also set him back in 2022, especially with girlfriend Catharine making the move to Vancouver. His work with team sports psychologist David Cox — who was inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame for his body of work — has also borne fruit. He’s playing free and having fun.

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“You can see he’s free, like he’s gotten a monkey off his back,” said Blackmon. “He’s definitely like the Brian that I saw my first couple years in the league when we were rookies trying to just have fun, make a run and do something.”

As for White’s eventual legacy?

“Well, hopefully it’s not done any time soon,” Blackmon said smiling. “The legacy that he’ll leave, whenever the time comes, will be a good one. Obviously, I think he’s going to break the record — also hopefully sooner than later — but it shows how much work he puts in. He loves being here. He’s definitely left his mark.”

jadams@postmedia.com

twitter.com/TheRealJJAdams

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Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11-8-8) vs. Houston Dynamo (11-10-7)

The teams square off Wednesday for the second time this season. The Whitecaps won the last meeting 6-2.

TOP PERFORMERS:

Amine Bassi has nine goals and one assist for the Dynamo. Corey Baird has four goals and one assist over the last 10 games.

White has scored 11 goals with four assists for the Whitecaps. Ryan Gauld has seven goals and seven assists over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES:

Dynamo: 3-3-4, averaging 1.3 goals, 4.6 shots on goal and 3.3 corner kicks per game while allowing 1.0 goal per game.

Whitecaps: 6-3-1, averaging 1.8 goals, 5.2 shots on goal and 5.3 corner kicks per game while allowing 1.6 goals per game.

NOT EXPECTED TO PLAY:

Dynamo: Ifunanyachi Achara (injured), Tate Schmitt (injured).

Whitecaps: Thomas Hasal (injured), Luis Martins (injured)


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