'They've adapted well': As Laryea, Adekugbe get VWFC welcome, Raposo outlines demands at wingback
On Sunday, Vancouver Whitecaps fans were able to celebrate the debut and return of two new additions, Richie Laryea and Sam Adekugbe, who each featured for around 45 minutes, and definitely made their presence felt, too.
Their debut showings didn't go unnoticed as fans took to social media, displaying support and excitement for the pair's arrival. Even their Whitecaps teammates were impressed, with fellow wingback Ryan Raposo alluding to how demanding the role can be and how big of a help the Canadian duo are giving the Whitecaps as they make the playoff push.
"Being the wide player on this team, it's demanding," Raposo said after the match. "That's why there's always so much rotation of guys in and out. Defensively, we have to be a part of every line. When the 'full-back' gets it we have to be the one that presses out. When the ball switches out, we have to be with the midfield line. And when they're in our final third, we almost have to be essentially with our backline. It's demanding, but Richie and Sam have adapted really well. Both of them did really well and they'll both be looking to build off that performance."
The Canadian newcomers showed that they could fit in well in Vanni Sartini's style of play, ranking among the most involved players on the night, combining for 4 shots, 7 crosses and 3 tackles from wingback roles. Despite those efforts ending in a 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes, for his part, Laryea admitted he wasn't quite in tip-top form but lamented the result for the sheer gap in created chances between the two teams.
"It felt good to get out there, get some minutes in. It's been a little bit since I played so it's nice to get a little run-out out there and get to 45 minutes ... I should have two goals on the day."
Perhaps on a more fortunate night they would have both been rewarded with goals as Laryea fired an early chance into the reach of San Jose Earthquakes’ keeper Daniel, and Adekugbe just missing out on taking the roof off at BC Place as his freekick hit the outside of the woodwork in an effort that would’ve tied the game.
Regardless, it's clear the two left a positive impression among supporters on their debuts.
I could get used to seeing Richie Laryea run down the wing like that. #VWFC— Joshua Rey (@JoshuaRey00) August 21, 2023
Haven’t been on Twitter since the loss, but taking Richie off for the sake of “he just got here” is almost criminal. He was one of the top offensive threats in the first half. Tough one to lose. Side note great atmosphere from @Southsiders and @vancouveralbion 👏#VWFC— Les Rouges 🇨🇦🇱🇸 (@OnlyLesRouges) August 21, 2023
Once Laryea gets settle in with this team and turf. Gonna be fun. #vwfc— Tbhidkwid (@tbhidkwid) August 21, 2023
With just 11 games left in the Whitecaps season, and the next 7 coming on the road, these upcoming results will be make-or-break for Sartini’s side, though it's hard to imagine if they are to be successful in that stretch, that it will be without the help of the new wingbacks, who helped Vancouver dominate in most aspects of this past game.