After spending time training with the Premier League club in December, the Canadian left-back has started the new MLS season off with a bang.
Adekugbe, 20, and Whitecaps teammate Christian Dean, 22, spent the first week of December training with the Premier League club during the MLS offseason in order to get a taste of English football, having also spent late-November with Scottish Championship side Rangers FC.
The former even had his stint extended to a fortnight after impressing the coaching staff, while both got the chance to appear in the Under-21s' 2-0 win over Birmingham, in which Adekugbe picked up an assist and earned a spot-kick.
Speaking to The Province at the time, the Canadian left-back said of his experience: “It’s a really good environment. Four or five of the players have already made their debuts for the club.
“There’s a lot more competition with the youth because there’s players here from Germany and Spain, and lots of players fighting at each position.
“Everyone has a different presence about them but it’s all the same stuff — one touch, two touch, move the ball quickly.”
“The players say when you hear ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ it’s just mesmerizing.”
Now back in Vancouver for the new season, Adekugbe earned a surprise start for the weekend’s trip to the Chicago Fire, where his impressive all-round performance helped his side seal a hard-fought 1-0 win.
Even landing a spot on the MLS Team of the Week for his efforts, head coach Carl Robinson was full of praise for the Canada Under-20 international’s showing, telling The Province after the match: “I thought he was excellent… and my outlook on my team and my players is that when young players show they’re ready for that chance, I want to give them that little carrot, and Sam had deserved it for his performances in pre-season.”
Before the weekend, Adekugbe has made five regular-season appearances for the Whitecaps since signing a homegrown contract with the club in August 2013 but his performance against the Fire will have no doubt boosted his first-team opportunities moving forward.
Having been born in London and raised in Manchester until the age of nine, before immigrating to Canada in 2004, the promising speedster doesn’t have to deal with work permit issues either should the chance to move back to England come up in the future and, given his undoubted potential, that could well be a realistic scenario.