Ryan Gauld may ultimately have been overlooked in the final running for MLS Most Valuable Player, but there’s no question that he was his team’s MVP.

To absolutely nobody’s surprise, Gauld is the Vancouver Whitecaps’ Player of the Year for 2023, winning the award for a second consecutive season after his most productive season in MLS.

The 27-year-old Scotsman was named on the longlist for MLS MVP after scoring 12 goals and a team-high 16 assists across 41 appearances in all competitions.

In MLS play, the attacking midfielder was at the top end of several stats charts, including big chances created (18, third-most in MLS), expected assists (8.93, fifth-most in MLS), chances created (78, sixth-most in MLS), expected goals (12.29, ninth-most in MLS) and overall goal contributions with 23, 11 goals and 12 assists (ninth-most in MLS).

It was also a record-breaking year for the man that ‘Caps head coach Vanni Sartini called his “working-class MVP,” as Gauld also became the club’s all-time assists leader in the MLS era with 33 across all competitions, as well as the Whitecaps’ all-time leader in MLS assists with 28. He struck up a hugely profitable partnership with the club’s Golden Boot winner Brian White, who scored 20 goals in all competitions with several of them assisted by White.

Meanwhile, the club awarded its Most Promising Male Player award to 2023 Canadian men’s national team debutant Ali Ahmed.

Ahmed was promoted to the first team for 2023 after impressing with Whitecaps FC 2 last season and cemented his reputation as one of the most promising young Canadian players around. The 23-year-old from Toronto made 28 appearances across all competitions for the ‘Caps (16 starts) and scored three goals and added two assists. The club notes that Sartini’s team won seven and lost just one of the 12 regular-season MLS games that Ahmed started, so the young star was something of a lucky charm for his team.

Ahmed’s club performances were so impressive that he made his CanMNT debut at the 2023 Gold Cup.

Related read: ‘Fearless’ Ali Ahmed’s Canada debut marks latest high point for breakout Vancouver Whitecaps star

Finally, another player who has made the jump from WFC 2 to the VWFC first team is Levonte Johnson, who was named the Whitecaps FC 2 Player of the Year. The 24-year-old top-scored for the reserve side with seven goals in 13 starts and signed four separate MLS short-term agreements to play with the Whitecaps’ first team, scoring on his debut against York United on May 10 and going on to start the 2023 Canadian Championship Final.

2023 was a positive year for the Whitecaps, despite how it ultimately ended, and there’s no doubt that both the present and the future look bright.