Transfer Tracker

Vancouver Whitecaps sign goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka from J1 League champs

TRANSFER_Yohei Takaoka VAN


Vancouver Whitecaps FC have acquired Japanese goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka from reigning J1 League champions Yokohama F. Marinos, the club announced Friday.

The 26-year-old signed through the 2024 MLS season with a club option for 2025. The deal utilized Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) and Takaoka will occupy an international roster spot.

Takaoka, who arrives from the same City Football Group-owned Japanese club as NYCFC center back Thiago Martins did last winter, will battle Thomas Hasal for the Whitecaps’ No. 1 spot. Hasal, a homegrown player, took over Vancouver's starting job in 2022 after Canadian international Maxime Crepeau was traded to LAFC.

"We were looking to add some experience to our goalkeeper group this offseason and when we learned Yohei was an option, we acted quickly," Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC sporting director, said in a release.

"He arrives with a winning mentality, has played for championships, and was in the J1 League's Best XI last year. We’re very pleased to welcome Yohei to our club and city."

Takaoka recorded 35 clean sheets in 85 appearances for Yokohama F. Marinos, taking over as their regular starter in April 2021. He joined the club in October 2020 from Sagan Tosu, helping Yokohama F. Marinos finish second behind Kawasaki in 2021 and win the league last year.

In all, Takaoka has made 111 appearances in Japan's top flight and 183 appearances across all competitions.

"I think this will be a good challenge for me, I needed a new challenge and that’s why I came here," said Takaoka. "I’m looking forward to everything, from living in Vancouver to playing new teams and doing my best for the club. I look forward to seeing all the fans soon at BC Place."

It’s been an offseason of fine-tuning from the Whitecaps, who signed Uruguayan defender Mathías Laborda on a free transfer in January as he left Nacional. They’re reportedly also set to sign former Real Salt Lake forward Sergio Cordova from German Bundesliga side FC Augsburg.

Vancouver, who missed out on the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs a year ago, open their 2023 slate on Feb. 25 when hosting Real Salt Lake (10:30 pm ET | MLS Season Pass).