The Vancouver Whitecaps are making major changes to their USL operations, announcing on Friday they will have a formal affiliation agreement with 2018 USL expansion side Fresno FC. As a result, the Whitecaps will also fold their current USL team, Whitecaps FC 2.
“First of all, we would like to thank every person who has worked tirelessly with Whitecaps FC 2 over the past three seasons,” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi in a team statement. “With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club. We are delighted to be working with Fresno FC, where the USL will provide the opportunity for high-level competition that will benefit our first team in MLS in the future. We expect that the internal competition for playing time at Fresno FC will provide a tremendous and challenging environment for our top young players.”
Fresno FC's inaugural general manager is two-time MLS Coach of the Year and Canadian national team manager Frank Yallop, and the expansion team will be coached by Englishman Adam Smith.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with Vancouver Whitecaps FC,” Yallop said. “Whitecaps FC is a world-class organization and this partnership will allow us to share ideas and knowledge on player and coaching development. I’ve known Bobby Lenarduzzi for 35 years. I knew we could work together and do justice for both clubs with this deal.”
As part of the agreement with Fresno FC, the Whitecaps will have the ability to assign players to USL contracts to play at the California club, while all players on the roster will be monitored and evaluated for MLS opportunities, as well as call-ups on the USL Short Term Agreement.