The Vancouver Whitecaps announced Wednesday that the club will not exercise the 2017 contract option on star midfielder Pedro Morales, ending the Chilean Designated Player's tenure with the Canadian side.
"I'd like to give thanks on behalf of my family and I for these three amazing years, which without a doubt have made an impact on my life as a person and my career as a football player," Morales wrote in an open letter on WhitecapsFC.com.
"I have finished my time as a Whitecaps FC player and I'm truly grateful and honored for the opportunity I had to be a part of this amazing club. I hope to remain in the memory of those who knew my football skills but more so to those who knew me as a person ... Although I will not be part of the team, I am a Whitecaps FC fan and I will carry your love wherever I go."
Morales, 31, joined Whitecaps FC in March 2014 from Spain's Malaga CF and won MLS Newcomer of the Year honors that season. He served as the Caps' captain and leaves as the club's all-time MLS regular-season assist leader with 22, and second in goals with 25. During three seasons in Vancouver, the native of Hualpen, Chile started in 71 of his 86 MLS appearances, including three MLS Cup Playoffs matches.
Morales started all seven of his appearances in Amway Canadian Championship action, scoring four goals and three assists, and helping Vancouver raise their first-ever Voyageurs Cup in 2015. Morales also made two CONCACAF Champions League appearances, notching an assist.
"Since the day Pedro joined our club he has been an excellent professional and one of the most naturally gifted players I have ever coached," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson in a club release. "We are thankful for his contributions to the club and city, and wish him all the best."
Per MLS roster regulations, Morales will be eligible for the MLS Re-Entry Process unless he opts out or is traded. Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft will occur on Dec. 16; Stage Two is set for Dec. 22.