Published: August 2, 5:31 p.m. ET
Updated: August 3, 7:57 p.m. ET
In Canada, not only does the Canadian Championship belong to the Vancouver Whitecaps, but so does MLS transfer deadline day.
On a day abuzz with what we’ve come to call Bogert Bombs (props to The Athletic’s MLS insider Tom Bogert for his Fabrizio Romano-esque devotion to being The Guy for all MLS transfer news) and numerous other whispers, mostly from Victoria-based Transfermarkt insider Manuel Veth, the ‘Caps slapped down a marker of their status as the best team in Canada by attracting not one but two Canadian internationals.
On the morning of the day when the MLS transfer window shuts for the remainder of the season, Bogert dropped the Bo’ Bomb (another possible name) that the Toronto FC and CanMNT favourite is indeed returning to Canada. But not with the Reds. With the Whitecaps.
Hours later, the 2023 Voyageurs Cup winners’ social media admin was more than happy to tease the news.
And at 2 p.m. PT on deadline day, they made it official.
“Richie is a winner, competitor, leader and has proven to be one of the best fullbacks in our league,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps’ sporting director in VWFC’s announcement post.
“Since the end of 2021, he has played in every single national team game, including all three World Cup games. We are very pleased to welcome Richie, Melanie, and their son Elijah, to our family.”
Laryea is a superb addition for the ‘Caps, there’s no question about it. He’s experienced at both club and national-team level, he’s feisty, he’s versatile, and he was arguably one of the best right-backs in the whole of MLS before his TFC loan spell ended.
Per Victoria-based Transfermarkt insider Manuel Veth, the Whitecaps have a verbal agreement in place to complete a permanent transfer this winter for around $1.5 million CAD.
Veth and Bogert both report that the Whitecaps beat not only TFC but also D.C. United to Laryea’s signature. The versatile right-back, who played 112 games for Toronto across two spells with his hometown club and has 34 CanMNT caps, will likely serve as more or less a direct replacement for Vancouver’s key man Julian Gressel, who will now be playing his soccer for the Columbus Crew alongside former CF Montréal centre-back Rudy Camacho.
Read more about Richie Laryea’s Vancouver Whitecaps transfer on our sister site Waking The Red
As if the signing of Laryea weren’t enough, Victoria-based Veth dropped his own bomb on Wednesday, revealing that Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster and Co. were pushing hard to try to beat the 10 p.m. PT transfer deadline to sign CanMNT left-back Sam Adekugbe from Hatayspor.
And they got that deal over the line, too, announcing the signing on Thursday morning in a deal Veth reports is worth around $1.5 million CAD.
Related read: Whitecaps officially announce return of CanMNT left-back Sam Adekugbe in multi-season deal
Adekugbe, 28, had two years remaining on the four-year deal he signed with Hatayspor in the summer of 2021. He spent the final few months of the 2022-23 Turkish league season on loan at giants Galatasaray after the disruption caused by the devastation of the tragic February earthquake. At Galatasaray, Adekugbe would ultimately win his first Turkish league title.
Now, the pair of Canada full-backs will line up on opposite sides of Vancouver’s defence for the remainder of the 2023 MLS season. It’s a huge double coup for the ‘Caps and Schuster to lure two experienced and seasoned Canadian internationals away from their European clubs midway through the season.
In a media briefing on Thursday, Schuster said that the Whitecaps’ hierarchy “didn’t feel rushed to do a deal,” noting that the team has been playing well without reinforcements.
“That’s the reason why it took until the last minute,” he added. “Because we had to play it out. We had to play our cards until the last minute, we had to wait and use the deadline to our advantage.”
Schuster also noted the club are delighted with the flexibility that the additions of the CanMNT pair gives them. Both Laryea and Adekugbe can play either as a flat full-back or as a more dynamic, attacking wing-backs. Back three? Back four? Vanni Sartini will have plenty of room to manouevre in the remaining weeks of the season.
“Those two guys are the perfect profile for the wing-back position, and that was the reason why we put the bar higher and we were trying to get both,” explained Schuster.
Meanwhile, there was even more Whitecaps news as the west-coast club were by far the busiest of the three Canadian MLS clubs, part of the process of juggling their salary cap that allowed them to bring in both Laryea and Adekugbe.
Sartini’s side tied integral centre-back Ranko Veselinović to a new long-term contract, and they also let bit-part winger Deiber Caicedo leave on loan.
Related read: Vancouver Whitecaps give Ranko Veselinović new long-term contract, let Deiber Caicedo leave on loan
And finally, as reported by, yes, Veth again, the Whitecaps beat the likes of Rangers, Southampton, Nordsjaelland, and Toulouse to sign 19-year-old Gambian centre-back Dembo Saidykhan.
But Laryea and Adekugbe will be the headline double-act. What a deadline day it was for the Whitecaps.