FRESNO, Calif. – USL expansion club Fresno FC – set to begin play in 2018 – and Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Friday a partnership that will see Fresno become the official USL affiliate of Whitecaps FC.
“Fresno FC is delighted that Vancouver has selected The Foxes as its USL affiliate for the 2018 season,” said Fresno FC owner Ray Beshoff. “It’s an exciting time for pro soccer in Fresno, and to have a direct link to MLS with Whitecaps FC will be significant in elevating the sport in the Valley.”
Fresno FC appointed former Canadian Men’s National Team Head Coach Frank Yallop as its General Manager earlier this year, and last week appointed its first Head Coach in Adam Smith. Both Yallop and Smith were recently in Vancouver to meet with Whitecaps FC’s technical staff, as the two clubs collaborate on bringing a successful expansion season to Chukchansi Park.
“We are absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to be working with Vancouver Whitecaps FC,” said Yallop. “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.”
Whitecaps FC, which began its current era in the USL, is coming off another successful season in Major League Soccer that saw the club reach the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. Among those who helped contribute to that success were center back Tim Parker and young Canadian standout Alphonso Davies, both of whom featured in the USL before becoming key figures in the club’s MLS squad.
“With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club,” said Whitecaps FC President Bob Lenarduzzi. “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.”
As part of the agreement with Fresno FC, Whitecaps FC 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 a USL Short Term Agreement.