USL PRO is coming to Vancouver this Spring, announced Friday as Whitecaps FC 2, to replace the Whitecaps U-23 team.
The club will compete in metro Vancouver at Thunderbird Stadium inside of the University of British Columbia. Like many clubs WFC2 will be partially fan-owned.
Vancouver joins Cascadia counterparts Seattle (Sounders 2) and Portland (Timbers 2) in putting a club in USL PRO, while Toronto FC reserves, Real Monarchs, FC Montreal, LA Galaxy II are also in the league or have announced plans to join the league. FC Dallas could be on the way, too.
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On top of the team, Vancouver announced an expansion of the National Soccer Development Centre in Canada.
In partnership with UBC and the Government of British Columbia, the club also revealed preliminary renderings of the final phase of the NSDC, featuring a state-of-the-art fieldhouse (subject to final UBC Board of Governors approval), which is set to be completed prior to the start of the 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) preseason.
The fieldhouse is being designed by Acton Ostry Architects, an award-winning architectural firm based in Vancouver, in collaboration with BBB Architects, internationally recognized sports architects who recently completed the Kia Toronto FC Training Ground & Academy. In total, the multi-campus NSDC includes seven fields – two artificial turf fields at Simon Fraser University, and three grass and two artificial turf fields at UBC.
“Today marks another important milestone for our club and another step forward in our partnership with UBC,” said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “We’re thrilled to be launching our USL PRO team at UBC. We have many talented young players at our club, including nine Residency products who recently did very well internationally with our Canadian U-20 men’s national team. WFC2 will allow them to continue their development against quality competition, including our fellow Cascadia rivals from Seattle and Portland. Along with the renderings of our new training facility, we have a clear view into our future. These initiatives will provide a positive impact and lasting legacy for Whitecaps FC, Canadian soccer, UBC, and the community at large.”
So what do you make of this? Does it raise or lower your opinion of USL PRO? Does this push them forward, even or behind the NASL?