Vancouver Whitecaps Profile
|Major Honours||Voyageurs Cup (1)|
Marc Dos Santos is looking to revive the Whitecaps name, made famous in the 1970s in the NASL era.
The Vancouver Whitecaps became the 17th MLS team when they entered the league in 2011 and replaced a USSF Division 2 team of the same name. The franchise is owned by Greg Kerfoot, Steve Luczo, Jeff Mallett and former NBA star Steve Nash.
Kerfoot became the majority owner in 2002 when the Whitecaps were under threat of contraction. Luczo is also part of a group that owns the NBA's Boston Celtics, while Nash and Mallett tried to buy a minority share of Tottenham Hotspur before getting involved in the Vancouver bid.
Vancouver kept the Whitecaps name that has long been associated with soccer in the city, but they redesigned the logo when entering MLS. Their official colours are navy blue, white and light blue to represent the water and mountains surrounding the city. The logo is three diamonds, again representing the mountains and the water, and features the full name of Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The Whitecaps played at Empire Field, a temporary stadium, in 2011 while BC Place was being renovated. They moved into BC Place, which they share with the CFL's BC Lions, for the final month of the 2011 season. BC Place has a total capacity of 54,500, converted down to 22,120 for MLS games. The stadium opened in 1983 for the Lions and Whitecaps and has also hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, the 2015 Women's World Cup, international games for both the men and women's soccer teams, an outdoor NHL game, NFL exhibition games, Australian rules football exhibitions and the World Rugby Sevens Series.
The Whitecaps have made the MLS Cup play-offs in four of their 10 seasons in the league, but have never advanced particularly far. They lifted the 2015 Voyageurs Cup after winning the Canadian Championship and they have finished runners-up in the competition five times since joining MLS. The Whitecaps have also represented Canada in the CONCACAF Champions League on two occasions, reaching one quarter-final.
The Whitecaps enter MLS
The Whitecaps hired former Iceland international Teitur Thordarson as their first manager after he had coached the Whitecaps in both the USL and USSF Division 2. For their first season, the Caps brought in Jay DeMerit from Watford and named him captain. Joe Cannon, Shea Salinas and Atiba Harris were acquired in the Expansion Draft, while Omar Salgado was selected in the SuperDraft. French forward Eric Hassli was signed as a Designated Player from FC Zurich and Brazilian forward Camilo Sanvezzo arrived from South Korea.
Their first-ever MLS game was played against Canadian rivals Toronto FC at Empire Field on March 19, 2011. The Whitecaps won 4-2 in front of 22,592 fans as Hassli scored twice, including the first MLS goal in team history. However, they lost five and drew five over their next 10 games and Thordarson was fired on May 30. Tom Soehn took over as interim manager, but the Whitecaps won just five games over the rest of the season, finishing in last place. Camilo led the team with 13 goals, while Hassli scored 11 times.
In the finals of the Canadian Championship, Vancouver drew against Toronto FC 1-1 at home but lost the second leg 2-1 as TFC lifted the Voyageurs Cup.
Martin Rennie was hired as manager for the 2012 season and the Caps drafted Jamaican forward Darren Mattocks and added Scotland midfielder Barry Robson on a Designated Player contract from Middlesbrough. Vancouver started the season with two straight wins and they ripped off three consecutive victories to end April. Despite a five-game losing streak in August and September, Vancouver picked up five points from their final five games to make the play-offs as the final seed in the West. They became the first Canadian team to qualify for the MLS Cup play-offs but lost 2-1 to LA Galaxy in the knockout round. Mattocks led the team with nine goals, plus the play-off goal, as Hassli had been traded in July.
The 2012 Canadian Championship again ended with the Caps as runners-up to Toronto. The first game again was a 1-1 draw in Vancouver before TFC won 1-0 at home in the second leg.
Robson left for Sheffield United before the 2013 season and Vancouver added Kekuta Manneh in the SuperDraft. Vancouver started the season with two straight wins before playing seven straight without a victory. Vancouver brought in goalie David Ousted in the middle of the season, and they won five of six between June 15 and July 14. However, they won just once in the next nine games and ultimately missed the play-offs by three points. In the 2013 Canadian Championship, Vancouver lost in the finals to Montreal on away goals with a 0-0 road draw and a 2-2 home draw.
Mixed fortunes under Carl Robinson
After the 2013 season, Rennie's contract wasn't renewed and the Whitecaps hired Carl Robinson as their new manager. They also brought in midfielders Mauro Rosales and Pedro Morales as Designated Players while adding defender Kendall Watson. The 2014 season started with a four-match unbeaten streak and Vancouver had recorded just two losses out of 14 games by June 25. Another six-match unbeaten streak kept the Caps in the play-off race and they ultimately won four of their final five to finish in fifth place in the West. In the knockout round, Vancouver lost 2-1 at FC Dallas due to an 84th-minute goal.
Striker Octavio Rivero joined the team as a Designated Player before the 2015 season, while Omar Salgado was traded to NYCFC. The regular season was the best yet for the Whitecaps, with 16 wins and five draws from 34 games. The 53 points gained put them second in the West with a bye to the conference semi-finals in the MLS Cup play-offs. However, in that semi-final round, the Whitecaps lost 2-0 at home to rivals Portland Timbers in the second leg and were eliminated.
In their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League campaign, they were drawn in a group with local rivals Seattle Sounders and Honduran side Olimpia. Vancouver beat Olimpia and drew against Seattle at home but lost both away games to slip out of the competition.
In the Canadian Championship, they beat FC Edmonton 3-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals and faced Montreal Impact in the final. The first leg was a 2-2 draw in Montreal and the Caps won the home leg 2-0 with goals from Rivero and Tim Parker to lift the Voyageurs Cup.
In 2016, the Whitecaps brought up teenage midfielder Alphonso Davies from Whitecaps FC 2 and signed him as a Homegrown Player. The season was more of a struggle though, with just three wins from their first nine games. They won three in a row but then didn't win from July 13 to September 10 and ultimately missed the play-offs.
In the 2016/17 Champions League, they swept all four group games with wins over Sporting Kansas City and Central from Trinidad & Tobago to move into the quarter-finals. However, they were unable to defend the Voyageurs Cup, with Toronto FC winning the final on away goals despite a 2-1 Vancouver home win.
Vancouver brought in Fredy Montero and Brek Shea before the 2017 season while Morales left. The season started with the Champions League quarter-finals and a 3-1 aggregate win over New York Red Bulls. In the semi-finals, they lost to UANL 4-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 first-leg loss in Mexico. The Canadian Championship ended in semi-final defeat with a 5-4 aggregate loss to Montreal as Davies scored twice. The Whitecaps finally got an MLS Cup play-offs win as they blasted San Jose 5-0 at home in the knockout round on October 25. In the conference semi-finals, they drew 0-0 at home to Seattle before losing on the road 2-0.
Montero's loan ended after the 2017 season while Ousted and Morales also departed. In 2018, the Whitecaps lost in the Canadian Championship final 7-4 on aggregate to Toronto after a 2-2 home draw in the first leg. Davies scored eight MLS goals in 2018 and Kei Kamara led the team with 14. Vancouver lost two straight games in September to fall out of a play-off spot and Robinson was fired. Craig Dalrymple took over as interim manager, but the Whitecaps missed the play-offs.
Spending big but struggling to succeed
Vancouver hired Marc Dos Santos, an assistant at LAFC, to be their fourth manager before the 2019 season. Montero returned to the Caps while goalkeepers Zac MacMath and Maxime Crepeau were also added. Shea and Kamara left while Watson was traded to FC Cincinnati. The big move was Davies being sold to Bayern Munich on January 1, 2019, for a then-MLS record $13.5million. Possible bonus payments meant the deal could be worth a total of £22million.
The Whitecaps won just eight games and finished in last place in the West with 34 points in 2019. They also lost in the third round of the Canadian Championship for the first time since joining MLS with a 2-1 aggregate loss to Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League.
Vancouver spent big before the 2020 season, with Canadian midfielder Lucas Cavallini added for $6million. Goalkeeper Evan Bush also came in while MacMath was traded to Real Salt Lake. The season was interrupted by COVID-19 and Vancouver didn't make it out of their group at the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando in July with one win and two losses. They played only Canadian sides for the first six MLS games of the resumed season, losing four times and winning twice. After September, the Whitecaps played six home games in Portland, winning four, but they missed the play-offs by one spot in the West.
Vancouver Whitecaps' rivals
Vancouver have Cascadia Cup rivalries with the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders. Since joining MLS, Vancouver won the Cascadia Cup in 2013, 2014 and 2016, while finishing second in 2015 and 2018.
Their rivalry with Portland is longer than the one with Seattle as it dates back to 1975 and the days of the North American Soccer League. The teams have faced each other in the A-League and USL First Division as well as in play-off games in 2007, 2009 and 2010. The match in 2017 was the 100th between Vancouver and Portland, making it one of the most-played in the US and Canada. Vancouver have lost to both teams in the MLS Cup play-offs and were also eliminated by Seattle in the Champions League group stage in 2015.
Vancouver have Canadian Championship rivalries with Montreal Impact and Toronto FC, but since they are so far away from the West Coast cities, the rivalry is not as intense as the one with Portland and Seattle. Vancouver have lost the Voyageurs Cup to Toronto FC six times, including four in a row from 2009-2012. They are 1-1 in the finals against Montreal with a win in 2015 and a loss in 2013. While Montreal and Toronto are both in the Eastern Conference, the Whitecaps are in the West, so they don't face the other two Canadian sides in the MLS regular season.
Vancouver Whitecaps' top players
The biggest name ever to play for the Whitecaps is Canadian international Alphonso Davies, who is now at Bayern Munich. Other big names to come through Vancouver include Jay DeMerit, Brek Shea, Joe Cannon, Kei Kamara, Fredy Montero, Darren Mattocks and David Ousted.
Midfielder Russell Teibert holds the Whitecaps' games record with 217 appearances heading into the 2021 season, with 184 of those being MLS games. Jordan Harvey played in 200 games from 2011-17, while both Gershon Koffie and David Ousted played 151 times.
Brazilian forward Camilo holds the franchise scoring record with 43 goals in total, 39 of which in MLS games, between 2011 and 2013. Pedro Morales and Cristian Techera both scored 29 goals and active striker Fredy Montero heads into the 2021 season with 28. Camilo also set the single season goalscoring record with 22 in 2013, while Morales holds the single-season assist record with 12 in 2014.
Ousted holds all of the Whitecaps goalkeeper records. He played in 151 overall games, 142 of those in MLS. Ousted secured 42 clean sheets in league games with 55 wins and 440 saves. He also holds the single-season record for clean sheets (13), wins (12) and saves (99).
The Whitecaps have two Designated Players in Lucas Cavallini and Ali Adnan. Previous D.P.'s include Eric Hassli (2011-12), Barry Robson (2012), Kenny Miller (2012-14), Mauro Rosales (2014), Pedro Morales (2014-16), Matias Laba (2014-17), Octavio Rivero (2015-16), Brek Shea (2017-18), Montero (2017-19), Kendall Watson (2018) and Hwang In-Beom (2019-20).