The city of Vancouver has officially been awarded the 17th franchise in the MLS by the league at a press conference in British Columbia this afternoon.
"We are thrilled to welcome Vancouver into Major League Soccer for the 2011 season," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "The ownership team of Greg Kerfoot, Steve Luczo, Jeff Mallett, and Steve Nash love the game and represent a new breed of ownership group. Our new Vancouver team also provides an attractive stadium plan and a market with a rich soccer tradition."
The Vancouver Whitecaps of the United Soccer League will transfer their team to MLS along with the soon-to-be renovated BC Place which will hold up to 20,000 raving Canadian soccer fans.
If having an MLS team in Canada is any indicator of how well the Vancouver team--as yet, no name for the new club has been announced--will do, they’ll surely prosper given the amazing success of Toronto FC over the last two seasons. The Ontario-based club has sold out ever home game, has sold 16,000 season’s tickets and has a waiting list of 14,000 more.
"The city of Vancouver and the Whitecaps have a rich and storied soccer history, which includes long-standing rivalries with Toronto and Seattle," said Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. "The successful bid for a Major League Soccer franchise offers a whole new level of opportunity for our organization, and by extension, for our city and our province."
Vancouver Whitecaps FC will continue to field a USL-1 team during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. MLS is expected to announce another expansion team for the 2011 season in the near future. Goal.com sources say that announcement could come as early as this Friday or some time in the beginning of next week.
Shane Evans, Goal.com