Team of the Matchday: Bouanga, Gauld & more step up in Matchday 32
Two Western Conference-based stars strengthened their Landon Donovan MLS MVP résumés in Matchday 32, prompting Team of the Matchday presented by Audi selections.
A creative and dynamic playmaker, Ryan Gauld joined Whitecaps FC in July 2021 after being one of only three players during the 2020-21 Liga Portugal season to feature in the league's top 10 in both goals and assists, while leading SC Farense in goals.
The Scottish attacking midfielder agreed to a Designated Player contract through 2024.
'22: In his first full season with Whitecaps FC, Gauld continued to implement his attacking creativity in the final third as he was named the club’s Player of the Year. The Scotsman tallied eight goals as well as a team-high 11 assists across 29 starts and 32 appearances in all competitions in 2022, while leading the team in key attacking categories including expected assists (5.31), expected goals (6.06), chances created (50), big chances created (7), shots (75), and shots on goal (25). Additionally, six of Gauld’s 19 goal contributions came on game-winning goals and three of those goal contributions helped the ‘Caps claim points from losing positions. The playmaker was also named to the MLS Team of the Week a team-high four times, featuring in the teams for Week 6, Week 20, Week 23 and Week 26.
'21: Having arrived mid-season, Gauld burst onto the scene and quickly became one of the best players in his position in MLS thanks to his creative vision in the final third. The Scot tallied four goals as well as six assists in 13 starts and 18 appearances during the regular season on route to helping the ‘Caps clinch a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs while also earning himself a nomination for the MLS Newcomer of the Year award. Gauld finished the season tied for second in the Western Conference in key passes per match with 2.5 (also tied for fifth-best in MLS) and led the ‘Caps in key passes (40), chances created (45) and expected assists (4.39). Gauld received plenty of recognition throughout the season, as he was named to MLS Team of the Week for four consecutive weeks - Week 20, Week 21, Week 22, Week 23 – as well as the Team of the Week for Week 34 after his playoff-clinching goal against Seattle Sounders FC. In addition, Gauld also scored two goals as a starter in the ‘Caps Canadian Championship showdown against Pacific FC and played the full 90 minutes in the playoff match against Sporting Kansas City.
'20-'21: Ranked sixth in the Primeira Liga with seven assists, while leading SC Farense with nine goals. He made 33 starts out of a possible 34 matches and was among the league leaders in several statistical categories. Gauld’s 2.3 key passes per game and 7.58 expected assists were tops in the Primeira Liga. Was also top five in the league in shots, corners, free kicks, and penalty goals scored.
'19-'20: Led SC Farense to promotion from the Portuguese second division to the Primeira Liga after a 2019-20 season where coaches and captains voted him the league’s Player of the Year. During the shortened season, he placed sixth in the league with nine goals while adding three assists in 21 starts and appearances.
'14-'19: After just over two seasons with Dundee United, Gauld made the move to Portugal in 2014 with famed Sporting CP. Beginning 2016, he would go on loan stints within the Primeira Liga with Vitória FC, CD Aves, and SC Farense, as well as back to the Scottish Premiership with Hibernian FC.
'12-'14: A product of Scottish club Dundee United’s youth system, Gauld moved up to the first team as a 16-year-old in 2012.
Gauld has featured for his country’s U-19 and U-21 sides and was in consideration for the senior roster at the 2020 UEFA European Championship.