The Vancouver Whitecaps have made history and centre back Doneil Henry hopes the soccer world is paying attention.
Three Canadians scored in the ‘Caps 4-3 win over L.A. Galaxy on Sunday, setting a Major League Soccer record for goals by Canadian-born players in a single game.
Henry was first on the board, registering his fourth strike of the season in the 20th minute.
“We have a lot of quality. I’m excited and I’m proud to be a part of history in the league for three Canadians to score,” the native of Brampton, Ont., said after training on Wednesday.
“Hopefully we finally get some of the respect we deserve.”
Ottawa-born striker Theo Bair added another goal in the 41st minute and Tosaint Ricketts of Edmonton scored in the 64th.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a loyal Canadian. For Theo and Doneil to get those goals and to set that record means everything to me,” Ricketts said. ”I’m always the one pushing the success of Canadians and the whole structure of Canada. So I’m very happy about that. And of course happy about the result as well.”
Hondouran international Michaell Chirinos sealed Vancouver’s win with a goal in injury time.
The maple leaf has been strongly represented by the Whitecaps this season.
The team’s MLS roster currently includes 13 Canadian-born players, though some have yet to make their league debut.
Though it’s been a dismal season for the Whitecaps, several of the Canadians have performed well, including Henry, who is the club’s third leading scorer.
Goalie Maxime Crepeau, from Greenfield Park, Que., has excelled in his first year as a starter, putting up 111 saves and registering five clean sheets.
Four ‘Caps players are also regular fixtures on Canada’s team and have been called up once again to play for the national squad in a friendly against the U.S. later this month.
“We know as players and Canadians across the country that we have value in this league and anywhere in the world,” Ricketts said. ”And it’s just good that everyone else can see that value in a game like (Sunday’s win against L.A.).”
Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos started six Canadians in Sunday’s game, but said he isn’t thinking about what country his athletes come from when he puts together a lineup.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to put on the field the players that allow us to win. And it’s not about being Canadian, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish. It’s about who could help win,” said Dos Santos, who’s from Montreal.
“I’m at peace as a Canadian coach with what I’ve done for Canadian players in my career. I can’t do much more. They’re getting opportunities and they’re playing.”
Still, his players appreciate the coach’s support of home-grown talent.
Ricketts joined the Whitecaps in August after spending time playing in Lithuania and said he’s happy to be playing for a Canadian club that has his back.
“You come here and you have their full support in the organization,” he said. ”It’s nice. As you can see, a lot of Canadians are flourishing.”
The Whitecaps will wrap up the season on Sunday with a home game against Real Salt Lake.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press