Vancouver Whitecaps (1986–2010)

Vancouver Whitecaps was a Canadian professional soccer club based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded in 1986, the team played its final year in the second tier of the United States soccer pyramid in the NASL Conference of the USSF Division 2 Professional League coached by Teitur Thordarson. The team played its home games at Swangard Stadium in nearby Burnaby, British Columbia. The team's colours were blue and white.

Vancouver Whitecaps
Full nameVancouver Whitecaps
Founded1986 as Vancouver 86ers[1]
Dissolved2010 (MLS 2011)
StadiumSwangard Stadium
Burnaby, British Columbia
OwnerGreg Kerfoot
Head CoachTeitur Thordarson
LeagueUSSF Division 2 Professional League
2010Regular Season: 2nd, NASL
Overall: 5th
Playoffs: Semifinals
WebsiteClub website

On March 19, 2009, an ownership group led by principal Greg Kerfoot was granted a Major League Soccer expansion franchise which began play in 2011 under the name Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

In addition to its men's side the Whitecaps also field a women's team in the USL W-League, two developmental teams (Vancouver Whitecaps Residency, in the USL Premier Development League, and the Whitecaps FC Prospects, in the Pacific Coast Soccer League), and four youth teams in the USL Super Y-League (Coastal WFC, Mountain WFC, Surrey WFC and Okanagan WFC) ranging in age from U13 to U17 for both boys and girls.[2]

The team was previously known as the Vancouver 86ers of both the Canadian Soccer League, American Professional Soccer League (APSL), and later the A-League. The club later played in two later versions of the second tier A-League known as the USL-1 and USSF Division 2 Professional League in North America.


Vancouver 86ers

In 1986, a professional soccer team was again launched in Vancouver, the Vancouver 86ers—so named because of both the year of the team's founding and to commemorate the year Vancouver was founded (1886). Eighty-six people also originally put up $500 each to fund the new team as the West Coast Soccer Society.[3] Led by player/head coach Bob Lenarduzzi and his assistant Alan Errington, the 86ers were triumphant in their inaugural CSL match, as they defeated Edmonton Brickmen 4–2 in front of 7,646 fans at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC, on June 7, 1987. The 86ers went on to finish second in the Western Division standings that year before bowing out to inaugural league champions Calgary Kickers in the playoff semifinals. The 86ers played in the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) winning four straight CSL Championships (1988–1991) and five consecutive CSL regular-season first-place finishes (1988–92).

In 1988–1989, the team, coached by Bob Lenarduzzi, set a North American professional sports record by playing 46 consecutive games without a loss.[4] Also in 1988 the Vancouver 86ers and Calgary Kickers played six friendly matches each against the Western Soccer Alliance in the month of May.[5]

In 1990, the Vancouver 86ers captured the North American Club Championship after defeating the Maryland Bays 3–2 in the final played in Burnaby. The game was played between the champions of the Canadian Soccer League and the champions of the American Professional Soccer League (APSL). The 86ers however came up short in the first round of the 1992 Professional Cup North American Club Championship. Facing APSL champions Colorado Foxes over two legs, Vancouver suffered a heartbreaking 3–2 defeat in the first leg in Colorado on August 3, 1992, before the Foxes advanced to the final, as a 2–1 second-leg win at Swangard on August 11, 1992, secured a 5–3 aggregate victory for Colorado. Vancouver played in the CSL from its inception in 1987 until the league folded in 1992, and then moved over to the APSL in 1993 which was later absorbed into the USL hierarchy of leagues in 1997 becoming the A-League, later renamed the USL.

Vancouver Whitecaps (USL)

In 2001, the team began to use the old Vancouver Whitecaps moniker (signifying both the 'white caps' of the nearby mountains, and the waves of the Pacific Ocean). In 2003, the name was again changed, albeit only slightly, to Whitecaps FC, which encompasses the men's, women's, and youth development teams within the organization. At this time, the Whitecaps logo changed slightly in colour (the light teal-green was replaced with a brighter blue) and the word "Vancouver" was dropped from the image.

In 2006, the Whitecaps organization won an unprecedented double-championship, claiming both the United Soccer Leagues First Division championship trophy, defeating the host Rochester Rhinos 3–0 at PAETEC Park, and winning the W-League women's trophy. The men's team also won the Nation's Cup, a new tournament established by their club as a way to feature the Whitecaps playing against international competition. The 2006 Nation's Cup tournament featured the Chinese and Indian U-20 National teams and Championship Welsh club Cardiff City F.C. (the "Bluebirds"). The gradually added the "Vancouver" back into their name, changing it officially to "Vancouver Whitecaps FC".

The following season, the Whitecaps signed a deal to play an exhibition match against the Los Angeles Galaxy, which featured international David Beckham, and promoted Director of Soccer Operations Bob Lenarduzzi to team president.

October 12, 2008, they claimed their second United Soccer Leagues First Division championship with a 2–1 victory over the Puerto Rico Islanders. Charles Gbeke scored twice with his head in the second half to help secure the title. In 2009, they placed 7th in the league and were eliminated in the final by the Montreal Impact on a 6–3 aggregate.[6]

In November 2009 the Whitecaps, along with several other teams, announced their intent to leave the USL First Division to become the co-founders of a new North American Soccer League, which was to begin play in 2010.[7][8] On January 7, 2010 the U.S.S.F. announced that neither the USL nor the NASL would be permitted to have a second division league,[9] and the USSF would administer a league where the NASL and USL are conferences within the league.[10]

On November 24, 2009 it was announced that Paul Barber, the former Executive Director of Tottenham Hotspur, will become the Chief Executive Operations director of the Caps.[11]

Whitecaps played a 30-match regular season, with 15 home games and a 15 games away in the United States Soccer Federation Division 2 Professional League.[12]

The Whitecaps and Major League Soccer

On July 24, 2008, the MLS announced they were seeking to add two expansion franchises for the 2011 season.[13] One day later, the Whitecaps officially announced that they were pursuing one of the two expansion slots. The Whitecaps also announced that local sports icon Steve Nash will join the Whitecaps ownership team.[14]

"There is no doubt the market for professional soccer exists in Vancouver, as we saw last November when nearly 50,000 fans attended the exhibition match between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Whitecaps, " MLS commissioner Don Garber said.[15]

Vancouver's bid was officially submitted on October 15, 2008, along with bids from 6 other cities.[16] Whitecaps representatives Greg Kerfoot and Jeff Mallett met with MLS officials on November 21, 2008 to go over their bid. Don Garber, who was previously involved in National Football League expansion, described the bid presentation as, "one of the best I've ever seen."[17] Garber and MLS president Mark Abbott were in Vancouver on December 7, 2008 to tour BC Place Stadium and learn about the proposed renovations, which were scheduled to be completed in time for the 2011 MLS season.[18]

Vancouver was officially named an MLS expansion city on March 18, 2009, and joined the league in 2011. They began their inaugural MLS season at Empire Field, a temporary stadium built at the former site of Empire Stadium, and moved into BC Place Stadium[19][20][21][22] when renovations to the stadium were completed.


Final roster

as of October 29, 2010[23]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 GK Jay Nolly
3 DF Luca Bellisomo
6 MF Terry Dunfield
8 DF Wes Knight
7 MF Martin Nash
9 MF Davide Chiumiento
11 FW Ridge Mobulu
12 MF Russell Teibert
14 DF Greg Janicki
15 MF Philippe Davies
16 MF Kyle Porter
20 MF Ethan Gage
No. Position Player
23 DF Blake Wagner
24 MF Alexandre Morfaw
25 FW Cody Arnoux
26 FW Alex Semenets
28 MF Gershon Koffie
29 MF Nizar Khalfan
31 GK Simon Thomas
33 DF Willis Forko
39 FW Cornelius Stewart
55 DF Mouloud Akloul
MF Bedri Gashi

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
DF Alain Rochat (at FC Zürich)[24]

Notable former players



  • Greg Kerfoot Owner
  • Bob Lenarduzzi President
  • Paul Barber Chief Executive Officer
  • Rachel Lewis Chief Operating Officer
  • Dave Irvine Manager of Technical Programs
  • Tom Soehn Director of Soccer Operations
  • Chris Murphy Director of Professional Development
  • Dan Lenarduzzi Director of Youth Development



  • Graeme Poole Physiotherapist
  • Chris Franks Physiotherapist
  • Al Ezaki Athletic Therapist
  • Dr. Bob McCormack Team Physician
  • Dr. Jim Bovard Team Physician
  • Steve Ramsbottom Strength & Conditioning Specialist
  • Darren Woloshen Equipment Manager


  • Note: Click on the year for the Whitecaps NASL season wiki.
  • Note: Click on League for the league's season wiki.

Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs Voyageurs Cup North American Championship CONCACAF Champions League
1987 1 CSL 2nd, Western Semifinals N/AN/AN/A
1988 1 CSL 1st, Western Champion N/AN/AN/A
1989 1 CSL 1st, Western Champion N/AN/AN/A
1990 1 CSL 1st, Western Champion N/AChampionN/A
1991 1 CSL 1st Champion N/AN/AN/A
1992 1 CSL 1st Final N/AQuarterfinalFirst Round
1993 1 APSL 1st Semifinals N/AN/AN/A
1994 1 APSL 6th Did not qualify N/AN/AN/A
1995 2 A-League 3rd Semifinals N/AN/AN/A
1996 2 A-League 5th Did not qualify N/AN/AN/A
1997 2 USISL A-League 3rd, Pacific Conference Finals N/AN/AN/A
1998 2 USISL A-League 4th, Pacific Conference Quarterfinals N/AN/AN/A
1999 2 USL A-League 2nd, Pacific Conference Quarterfinals N/AN/AN/A
2000 2 USL A-League 3rd, Pacific Conference Semifinals N/AN/AN/A
2001 2 USL A-League 1st, Western Semifinals N/AN/AN/A
2002 2 USL A-League 3rd, Pacific Conference Finals 3rdN/AN/A
2003 2 USL A-League 2nd, Pacific Division Finals 3rdN/AN/A
2004 2 USL A-League 2nd, Western Semifinals 4thN/AN/A
2005 2 USL First Division 3rd Quarterfinals 2ndN/AN/A
2006 2 USL First Division 4th Champion 3rdN/AN/A
2007 2 USL First Division 7th Quarterfinals 2ndN/AN/A
2008 2 USL First Division 2nd Champion 3rdN/ADNQ
2009 2 USL First Division 7th Final 2ndN/ADNQ
2010 2 USSF Division 2 2nd, NASL (5th) Semifinals 2ndN/ADNQ

Pepsi Cup – North American Club Championship

1992 Professional Cup – North American Club Championship


Colorado advances on aggregate, 5–3



Canadian Soccer League

Canadian Championship

USL First Division


  • North American Club Championship
    • Winners (1): 1990
  • Nations Cup
    • Winners (1): 2006

Head coaches

Name Nationality Years Ref
Bob Lenarduzzi CAN1987–1993
Carl Valentine ENG1994–1999
Dale Mitchell CAN2000–2001
Tony Fonseca POR2002–2004
Bob Lilley USA2005–2007
Teitur Thordarson ISL2008–2010[25]


Proposed new stadium

For some time, the City of Vancouver and the ownership group of the Whitecaps were considering the idea to build the team a soccer-specific stadium called Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. The new stadium was to be built over the railway tracks east of Waterfront Station on Burrard Inlet.

This 16,000 seat stadium would have replaced Swangard Stadium as the home field for the USL's Vancouver Whitecaps.

There was a fair degree of controversy with regards to this location; a Vancouver council session to debate the issue was extended to four nights to allow public input. Detractors viewed the proposed stadium as an incongruous addition to nearby historic Gastown that would block waterfront access and promote piecemeal development of the area. Proponents of the development felt that the stadium would attract new business to the downtown and Gastown areas, particularly since the soccer team tended to attract a family-oriented audience.

On July 11, 2006, Vancouver City Council voted unanimously to proceed with the stadium project, so long as the Whitecaps could meet certain conditions regarding land use. On January 22, 2007, the Whitecaps filed a new proposal shifting the proposed site for the stadium project to the current location of the SeaBus terminal, a short distance northwest of the previous site.

With the Whitecaps moving up to MLS, the franchise has signed to initially play at Empire Field, and then BC Place Stadium from 2011 to at least 2015. It was hoped that the new facility would be completed by the 2016 MLS season. Due the hurdles of getting the new stadium approved, the project has been abandoned with the team committed to playing at BC Place Stadium.

Club culture


The Whitecaps' mascot was named Winger. He is a bird who wears a Whitecaps jersey and carries a large drum to encourage the crowd. He often uses signs to get fans in the grandstands to cheer.


The Whitecaps have an independent supporters group known as the Southsiders.[26][27] Founded in 1999, the group is named for their preferred seating area in the south end of Swangard Stadium. The Southsiders, once described as a "rabid supporters group",[28] identify themselves as Canada's oldest supporters association for professional domestic association football.

The group originally called themselves "The Carlsberg Crew," named for the beer company that sponsored Swangard's beer garden. The name was changed to "The Canterbury Chorus" for the subsequent season, as the beer sponsorship had changed between seasons. To avoid changing names every time the sponsor changed, the group chose the name "The Southsiders".[29]

Rival clubs

The Vancouver Whitecaps have two historic rivals, the Pacific Northwest Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders. These three teams competed in the yearly Cascadia Cup through 2008. In 2009, the Cup involved only the Whitecaps and Timbers because the Sounders were replaced by an MLS team of the same name.

The Whitecaps also compete on a yearly basis with the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC for the Voyageurs Cup or Canadian Championship. The winner of this series advances to the CONCACAF Champions League.


  1. Archived April 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Archived September 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. McMahon, Martin (August 26, 2011). "Soccer Almanac: The ups and downs and ups of Canadian soccer". Retrieved April 29, 2014.
  4. "2004 Team Induction – 1989 Vancouver 86ers". BC Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 12, 2013.
  5. "WSA 1988 Season". Retrieved May 13, 2013.
  6. "Montreal wins USL-1 title". October 17, 2009. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
  7. "USL outcasts set to launch new league in 2010". November 10, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  8. Molinaro, John F. (November 10, 2009). "CBC Sports: Whitecaps, Impact to form breakaway league". Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  9. "US Soccer Federation To Oversee Combined NASL/USL League". January 7, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  10. "Impact, Whitecaps join new league". Toronto Sun. January 7, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2010.
  11. Whitecaps appoint CEO from EPL club
  12. 2010 regular season announced
  13. "Major League Soccer: News: Article". July 21, 2011. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  14. 'Caps pursue franchise in MLS Archived July 31, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  15. "Latest News |". July 21, 2011. Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  16. "MLS News and Notes". The Star-Ledger. November 21, 2008.
  17. "MLS expansion fee won't scare away Whitecaps". The Vancouver Sun. November 25, 2008. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  18. "MLS bosses tour BC Place". The Vancouver Sun. December 11, 2008. Archived from the original on February 12, 2009.
  19. "MLS expected to announce Vancouver expansion team". CBC News. March 17, 2009.
  20. "Whitecaps to announce they will join MLS in 2011". The Vancouver Sun. March 17, 2009. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009.
  21. "Whitecaps to announce MLS franchise secured". Canwest News Service. March 17, 2009. Archived from the original on March 21, 2009.
  22. MLS awards Vancouver team for 2011 Archived July 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  23. Archived February 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  24. Archived August 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  25. "Thordarson Given His Big Chance". Prost Amerika. September 2, 2010. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved March 13, 2011.
  26. The Official Supporters Group of The Vancouver Whitecaps (USSF D2)
  27. "Vancouver Southsiders". Vancouver Southsiders. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  28. Steedman, Scott (September 10, 2010). "Taking the ball". Vancouver Courier. Archived from the original on September 16, 2010. Retrieved September 20, 2010.
  29. The Southsiders Official Homepage. Archived July 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on July 22, 2010.
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