Vancouver Whitecaps are endorsed with a number of British based players and coaches within their ranks. Whitecaps radio commentator Peter Schaad continues the tradition of a British influence being a lifelong Aston Villa fan. The voice of Vancouver took time out of his busy timetable to chat exclusively about his job role and his views on the season so far for his beloved Claret and Blue.

First and Foremost for all the British readers who are unfamiliar with Peter Schaad. What is your job role and duties within the Vancouver Whitecaps ?

I provide the radio commentary both home and away for the Whitecaps on TEAM 1410 and TEAM 1040 in Vancouver, along with hosting a daily soccer show (“Whitecaps FC Daily”) on TEAM 1410 from 3-4 PST.

What route did you take for you to be in the position you are today ?

Like many radio people in this part of the world, you start off in a small market (mine was Port Alberni BC).  There I did everything from hosting the morning show, to producing and writing the adverts.  AND I did some Junior Hockey play-by-play as well.  From there, it was down Vancouver Island to Victoria for 6 years, before moving to Vancouver.  While in Vancouver, the Whitecaps were reborn from what was then the Vancouver 86ers, and the process basically began there.

Have you always wanted a career in the media industry ?

Since I was about 10 years old!

Has soccer always been an interest of yours ?

Like most kids growing up in Canada, my first sports interests were in hockey and our Vancouver Canucks.  But the Whitecaps won soccer bowl in 1979 and everything sort of changed then.  The environment at soccer matches was always special, even over here.  I wasn’t a great player, so I sought coaching through some elite clinics and camps, and started my journey towards being a solid youth coach and or referee.  I took the coaching path, and it’s still a passion of mine, but I’m not involved at the moment.

Growing up through your journey who would you say has been your biggest inspiration ?

There were two broadcasters that we were very spoiled to have in Vancouver while I was growing up, and they influenced many broadcasters from my generation.  One was Jim Robson, the LEGENDARY voice of the Vancouver Canucks, who was a word-smith and a class act, in addition to having a golden voice.  The other was Ian Michaud, who was the radio voice of the Whitecaps, and probably the best non-accented soccer commentator in North America.  Without them, I’m not sure I would have been so fascinated by the vocation.

I regularly listen to your Whitecaps FC Daily podcast which you host amazingly well. What does a day in the life of Peter Schaad consist of ?

The wonderful luxury I have in this job…is that of more time than most people.  The Show requires a few hours of preparation, but because I enjoy it, it’s quite easy.  If you’re curious about the game, the job is really quite easy (I hate admitting that).  So I get to spend so much time with my young family…2 boys 10 months and 3 years, and wife of 5 years, Sandra.  I’m a lucky guy…and really my only time away is during quick weekend road trips which depart fridays, and return Sundays.  It’s a good life!

Vancouver Whitecaps are rapidly becoming one of the biggest organisations in MLS. How does it feel to be a part of the Whitecaps ?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen the Whitecaps through their glory years, through their minor league years, and then back to the top flight in North America. There were some tough times when I wondered if the long trips and meagre existence in the lower leagues of the United Soccer League did make me wonder if it was worth it.  Even the MLS grew very slowly, and had some very trying times when people wondered whether it would last.  But now, to be in a league that has still yet to see its greatest years, and to be with the home-town club that I supported as a kid, is the long culmination of a very early goal in my life.

The Whitecaps are currently 5th in the Western Conference, just in front of FC Dallas who are tugging at their coat tails. What do you think is the key factor to ensuring they stave of the pressure from Dallas and secure a play-off position ?

Their designated players (Barry Robson & Kenny Miller) need to be their best players.  The team has struggled scoring and keeping the ball out of their own goal…not a good recipe for success!

Vancouver have had a great season despite the late hiccup with the long away stretch. From your view point how has the season gone thus far.?

The start of the season was encouraging, and they started rolling about the same time that the club made changes.  The majority of player acquisitions were very good pieces of business.  But something has been missing since Davide Chumiento left for FC Zurich.  I was in denial about that for quite some time…but the tricky Swiss Italian player brought something different.  A high soccer IQ, and the ability to link midfield with attack.  The results haven’t been good since then.

Martin Rennie has only been in charge since the start of the season. How well do you think he has done ?

Rennie is a special Manager, combining a good and growing understanding of the game, with a psychology component that is very unique from any manager I’ve seen before. He’s worked his way up the same way radio people do…starting in small obscure places and winning at every level.  Ultimately, he’ll be judged on the player moves he made during the season, and whether they can make it into the play-offs.  I do believe he’ll one day manager overseas and be successful.  He’s also a tremendous person.

Do you think he will still be Head Coach come the start of the 2013 MLS campaign ?

Without a doubt.

New to the roster this season has been a number of British based players such as Kenny Miller, Barry Robson and Andy O’Brien. How well have they settled in ?

With great difficulty.  MLS is a tough league, which doesn’t get any respect overseas.  Many players come over thinking it’ll be a cake walk.  Both Thierry Henry and David Beckham struggled at the outset.  The enormous travel burden (especially on the West Coast), varying surfaces (The Whitecaps and 3 others play on artificial turf) and the challenging heat, humidity and even altitude obstacles, make this a tough league for foreigners.  A derby in our world is a 3 hour bus-ride, or an hour by plane.  That would take you from top to bottom in the UK.  So, judgement will have to be reserved perhaps until later, but all have shown touches of class that is obvious.

Can Vancouver Whitecaps achieve MLS Cup success whether it is in 2012 or in the future ?

Without question.  The league is set up for parity because of the Salary budget that every club has to adhere to.  So your signings, especially the designated players, have to be consistent difference makers.  The club’s ambition is among the highest in the league, and the ownership group may be one of the most forward thinking of all MLS owners.  That’s a good recipe.

The MVP award for any player is a massive honour. If you had to name your Vancouver Whitecaps MVP for this season who would it be and why ?

Youngsters Gershon Koffie (central midfielder) & Darren Mattocks (Forward) would have to be considered…along with the captain Jay DeMerit, who’s had a wonderful year.

What will The ‘Caps be looking to achieve during the MLS 2013 season ?

To be among the league’s elite

Where do you see Vancouver Whitecaps in five years’ time ?

They’ll be challenging every year for one simple reason.  Their youth academy programs is among the best in MLS.  It’s starting to bear fruit…and those players don’t cost much towards the salary budget.  We’ll hopefully be seeing a competitive group that is dotted with young Canadians, which will also help our national team prospects.

Not many people know that you’re a huge Aston Villa supporter. How did it come about you supporting the Claret and Blue ?

Well, it’s a truism in sport, that your club chooses you.  That’s the simple answer.  When the Whitecaps won Soccerbowl in the NASL back in 1979, I was 10.  At the time we had a weekly round-up show from England called “Big League Soccer” hosted by the legendary Brian Moore.  The show consisted of 3 mini games and some viewer mail.  Because Villa were in their run-up to the championship, they featured often, with the likes of Shaw, Withe, Mortimer, Cowans, Spink etc.  I simply loved the name “Aston Villa”, the colours…which were different from all the other clubs, (and the colour of your arteries and veins) and, perhaps most importantly, there was just something about Villa Park.  That magnificent Trinity Road stand with the gable and club crest…well, you know.

How long have you supported the club for ?

32 topsy turvey years!

Have you managed to attend any games at Villa Park ?

I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t.  Many of my colleagues have and rave about the stadium.  It will be happening hopefully sooner than later, but as a family man, expensive self indulgent pilgrimages to your favourite football club are probably not in the cards until the kids are old enough to come along and appreciate it with me and my missus, who also really wants to go.

Paul Lambert is a very tough character both on and off the field. He done wonders at Norwich City last season. What is your verdict on Paul Lambert ?

It’s funny because Whitecaps Assistant coach Paul Ritchie was a mate of Paul Lambert, so I ask about him often.  Ritchie has very good things to say, and above all appreciates that Lambert didn’t take the easy route, become a legend at Norwich City, and take a “comfortable” position long into the future.  Instead, he challenged himself, took on a massive club with HUGE issues from some terrible mis-management, and has taken it on brilliantly.  I watch every media conference with him, obviously every game, and I’ve been impressed by a couple of key issues that differentiate himself from the past 2 men in charge.  Firstly, he’s not afraid to bring in players that haven’t played Premiership football before.  In fact, none of his signings have.  Add to that the ages of the players he’s brought in, and you’ve got a gaffer who’s brave and has a good eye for talent.  His predecessors, in particular Martin O’Neill, were loath to bring players in from outside the UK, or young players for that matter, and paid top dollar following that course.  The club is still paying for that philosophy. The formula for success in the modern game, especially with FFP looming, is to bring in young players on the cheap, and sell them on for big profits. The decisions to bring in both Houllier and McLeish were absolute disasters and set the club further back because they were never going to change the culture the way Lambert already has.  Ultimately, Lambert will have to get the most out of his players, and create good competition within the club…with no-one being bigger than the club itself.  That fact was made clear with his handling of Darren Bent this week…which I agree with 100%,. Now Paul Lambert must stick to his guns.

Aston Villa are currently languishing in 15th with 5points from six games. What is your view on the start to the season ?

I can only judge the results based on the corresponding performances.  Only the Everton match, and 30 minutes of the Southampton game have been poor in my opinion. I have more hope than I’ve had in about 3 years.  Even during the O’Neill tenure, which was exciting because they were IN every game, you still felt like the money paid would catch up eventually, and that there was a limit to how far a club could go. When you bring in young players, and compliment them with established pro’s…there’s an unknown, which is exciting.  I expect some issues will be addressed in January, and more of the old guard will be shown the door as well.  The true judgement of Aston Villa will probably be in year 2-3 of Lambert’s reign.  Hopefully the hard core Villa supporters feel the same way and give him the time he’s going to need.

What can Aston Villa achieve this season ?

This season is built for survival, some good cup runs and a mid-table finish would have to be considered a fabulous start to the Lambert era.  Perhaps even more importantly, is just to bring the good feelings back to Villa Park.  Hard working young players and a team with character will go a long way to achieving that.

Where would you like to see your own career in five years time ?

It’s funny hearing career with my job, because really it’s a hobby I get paid for.  So the challenge will be, never becoming complacent in the position and taking it all for granted.  I would however love to get to the stage one day, when I could call bigger national matches, and even international ones.  Television is usually the next step for radio commentators with ambition, but I enjoy the radio more having done both.  There are limitations to TV.   My wife has also always wanted to live overseas.  It would be an exciting adventure to call games overseas, especially being respected doing it without an English accent.  We have several BBC alums here in MLS, including Arlo White of NBC, Ross Fletcher of the Sounders, Luke Wileman of TSN and Callum Williams of Sporting Kansas City.  They’re all EXCELLENT lads…I would consider them all friends.  But wouldn’t it be interesting to go the other way, and be the Canadian lad calling games in Europe during the MLS off season!

What advice would you give to any youngsters who are looking to follow in your footsteps ?

You have to work harder than everyone else. You have to expect failure and adapt to it.  And above all, nothing in life is easy…so you have to map out a series of goals that point you in the direction you ultimately want to go.  I taught broadcasting for 10 years…and it was an amazing experience that taught me a lot.  But one thing that worries me about today’s generation, is that everyone wants to be rich and famous, and everyone wants that right now.  It’s not possible.  You need a plan…and you need to be patient and make sacrifices along the way.

Best Game You’ve Commentated On

The Whitecaps first game in MLS was a 4-2 win over Toronto FC…a fierce rival.  The house was packed and nosier than I could have ever imagined.  It was cloudy and rainy up until kick-off when the sun game streaming down.  And a local lad, Terry Dunfield scored one of the Whitecaps goals…before leaping into the crowd.  It was a magical, Cinderella story like game that no-one involved with the club will ever forget.  I came close to tears at the start because it had been such a long journey for the club and for myself to get to that game…and it was perfect in every way.

Best Person You’ve Commentated Alongside

All my colleagues have been excellent in their own way.  We’re very spoiled here in Vancouver to have a great soccer culture and alumni of former National team players.  My current partner, David Norman…is not only extremely good at his job, but a really great person to travel with.  And in a league like this, that’s half the battle!

Best Player You’ve Interviewed

We’re very lucky to have a group of players in Vancouver who understand that the job of growing the game is partially up to them, and how accessible they make themselves to the media.  That’s another thing the foreigners coming here don’t quite get.  Here, we’re promoting them and helping them become brands.  Over there, the media is the enemy…and access is limited.  I’ve had so many player interviews…it’s hard to pick just one, but we once had Peter Beardsley drop into a broadcast and having been a huge fan of his as a kid, it was neat to have him on during a game.

Favourite Vancouver Whitecaps Player

The one who scores the next winning goal.

Favourite Aston Villa Player

Having been a goalkeeper in my mediocre playing days, I’m partial to Brad Guzan, because he was also an MLS alum, and he’s done well.  But I have high hopes for Christian Benteke because of all the tools in his locker.

Best Friend In Soccer/Media

My commentary colleagues David Norman and Paul Dolan, both members of the Canadian National team that qualified for the 1986 World Cup, along with all the BBC alums I referred to earlier who make regular appearances on Whitecaps FC Daily.

Favourite MLS Stadium

Apart from BC Place, because it’s the office, there are 2:  Jeld-Wen field in Portland, home of the Timbers because of the vantage point and the crowd.  And Livestrong Sporting Park is as high tech and spectacular as any football ground in the world.

Team Supported Growing Up

Vancouver Whitecaps and Aston Villa

Favourite Food

Seafood…crab scallops and salmon, and Lamb.  During the week, we eat vegetarian!

Favourite Drink

If I’m winding down a night, scotch.  If I’m getting started…Jagrbombs.  (I have one Red Bull prior to each half for all MLS games).  I’m also really starting to appreciate red wine as well.

Favourite Vacation Destination

When you’re from British Columbia, you’re pretty spoiled, because there are so many beaches and incredibly beautiful places just a short drive or ferry ride away.  So we usually stay close to home.  Hawaii is pretty special, as is California (we had 5 trips there this season)  I’ve been to Germany once, (my ancestral homeland) and plan on going back soon.

First Car

Datsun 200SX

Favourite Film

“Inglorious Bastards”.  “No Country For Old Men” is close behind.  All time, you’d have to say “Shawshank Redemption”.

Favourite Music

As a teenager, I was a HUGE Doors fan.  On our recent trip to LA, I did a Doors tour visiting the Whiskey a Go Go and Venice Beach, plus the Hollywood Bowl.  Reignited my love for the band.  I was also heavy into the usual’s, Zeppelin, the Who, Beatles, & Pink Floyd.  Today, I’m a huge fan of independent rock and will always look for a cool new single to download.

What would you do if you won $1million ?

Pay off my mortgage, and update my home with the greenest materials and technology possible.

I would like to thank you Peter for your time and efforts during the interview process it’s been an absolute pleasure.

By Anthony Bedworth