Vancouver Whitecaps FC is a Canadian professional soccer club based in Vancouver, British Columbia which will begin play in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top professional soccer league in the United States and Canada, in 2011.
The Whitecaps will be the 17th club of Major League Soccer, and replaces the USSF Division 2 team of the same name, which was owned and managed by the same group that operates the MLS team, and which played through the conclusion of that league’s 2010 season. The MLS club will be the third team to share the legacy of the Whitecaps name.
The Vancouver franchise was granted status on March 18, 2009 by MLS Commissioner Don Garber as the seventeenth franchise of Major League Soccer. It is to join the Portland Timbers, announced two days later as the eighteenth MLS franchise, for the 2011 MLS season. While no name was provided at the Vancouver announcement, it has now been confirmed it would keep the Vancouver Whitecaps name.
Preparing itself for its first MLS season, the Whitecaps brought in first class talent from around the world. On November 24, 2009, Paul Barber, former Tottenham Hotspur F.C. executive, was announced to join the club as CEO. Others joining him include former D.C. United head coach Tom Soehn as Director of Operations and Dutch national Richard Grootscholten as the Technical Director and head coach of the residency program.
As the head coach of the USL and later USSF Division 2 Vancouver Whitecaps, former Iceland international Teitur Thordarson was confirmed as head coach on September 2, 2010 for the inaugural MLS season.
COLOURS AND BADGE
On June 8, 2010, it was officially announced the club would continue using the “Whitecaps” name, but with a new logo. The name alludes to the geographic features surrounding the city: white-capped mountains to the north and the Pacific Ocean’s white-crested waves to the west.
The official club colours are navy blue (“deep sea”), white, and light blue (“Whitecaps blue”). The “deep sea” blue represents the maritime landscape of the Vancouver area and the “Whitecaps blue” indicates the reflection of the North Shore Mountains in the Pacific Ocean. The lighter shade of blue also alludes to the primary colour of the original Whitecaps, winners of Soccer Bowl 1979. The silver outline pays homage to the team’s championship victories since 1974.
On June 10, 2010, the Whitecaps strip package was unveiled with Bell Canada serving as the inaugural jersey sponsor. The home shirt is white with horizontal, navy blue pinstripes; the stripes broaden slightly from top to bottom. The away shirt is deep blue with an embossed, interlocking diamond pattern which is also deep blue and is reflective in the light.
Whitecaps FC will play their first few games of its inaugural 2011 season at Empire Field, a temporary stadium built at the former site of Empire Stadium to house the BC Lions and the Whitecaps while BC Place Stadium is renovated and fitted with a new retractable roof. Once the BC Place project is complete, Whitecaps FC will move there and will stay until at least 2015. In the meantime, the organization hopes to finalize and build the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium in downtown Vancouver in time for the 2016 MLS season.
The group began in 1999 when fans of the Vancouver 86ers began congregating in the pitch-level beer garden behind the goal at the south end of Swangard Stadium.
The Southsiders’ relationship with the team’s ownership has not always been amicable. It has evolved since Vancouver received the MLS expansion team. Images of the Southsiders are featured prominently in Whitecaps’ marketing campaigns. The group’s board was invited to the invite-only launch of the kits and logo to be used in the MLS. The expansion has also increased membership. The president of the organization said that it had grown from about 40 paid members to 100 paid in July 2010. He also believes there is no reason why the Southsiders cannot outdo the Seattle Sounders’ Emerald City Supporters.
The team sold the first 5,000 $50 season ticket deposits 48-hours after they became available to the public. Remaining season tickets will be made available to season ticket holders for the USSF 2 Whitecaps before becoming available to non-season ticket holders.
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