Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Vancouver Whitecaps
• How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?
The club has invested a substantial amount of money on youth development.
In 2007, Whitecaps FC Residency launched a full-time, fully funded, player development program unlike any other in North America. The Residency program is comprised of approximately 80 of the top players from across British Columbia and Canada. Aspiring players can enter the Whitecaps FC club system full-time as early as age 12, and be nurtured in an age appropriate learning environment, with gradational steps that will help them attain a successful professional club and national team career.
Last year, Whitecaps FC 2 played their first season in the United Soccer League. The addition of WFC2 has provided a developmental bridge from USSDA to MLS. The WFC2 2016 roster includes 10 Residency grads and one product of our the club's former USL U-23 team.
The club also operates a full-time Girls Elite Regional EXCEL Centre (REX) program in partnership BC Soccer and Canada Soccer.
All programs regularly produce players who play for Canada at the national team levels. For example, in 2015, near 40 Residency players were called up to Canada’s youth national teams.
In addition to the WFC2, Residency, and REX programs, the club has regional Academy Centres linked through key staff, curriculum, and standards that provide professional supplemental club training for serious, motivated players. The Academy Centre network currently includes locations in Kamloops, the Kootenays, London (Ontario), Manitoba, the Okanagan, Prince George, Saskatchewan, Squamish, Vancouver, and Vancouver Island.
• How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?
Whitecaps FC have signed 12 homegrown players since joining MLS for a total of 144 matches with the club. There are six homegrown players on the 2016 roster (below in bold).
Philippe Davies: 0 GP
Nizam Khalfan: 22 GP
Brian Sylvestre: 0 GP with Vancouver; 12 with Philadelphia
Russell Teibert: 92 GP
Bryce Alderson: 0 GP
Caleb Clarke: 2 GP
Sam Adekugbe: 14 GP
Marco Carducci: 0 GP
Ethan Sampson: 3 GP
Kianz Froese: 10 GP
Marco Bustos: 1 GP
Ben McKendry: 0 GP
In addition to MLS matches, a number of these players have seen first team minutes in the Amway Canadian Championship and CONCACAF Champions League.
• Who pays to play on your youth teams? And how much do they pay?
Residency and REX programs are fully funded
• How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?
Last year, WFC had 14,000+ season ticket members. For the second straight year, the number has increased, with 15,500 confirmed for 2016.
• Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?
Whitecaps FC train at the National Soccer Development Centre (NSDC) at the University of British Columbia (UBC). WFC have partnered with the BC government and UBC to construct, improve, and refurbish two artificial turf fields, three grass fields, as well as a state-of-the-art fieldhouse. 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 with a total estimated cost of $24.4 million.
Phase One was completed in February, 2013 and currently serves as the club's training home. The final phase of the NSDC is now underway. Once completed, the NSDC will feature a state-of-the-art, 35,000 square foot fieldhouse, which is set to be completed near the start of the 2017 MLS season. 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.
Once built, the NSDC will become the new training base for the Whitecaps FC men’s, and Residency teams, UBC’s soccer teams, as well as the West Coast base for Canada’s men’s, women’s, and youth national teams. Beyond these teams, the facility will also devote more than 50% of field time to community soccer use. This facility will be a key asset in the training and development of Whitecaps FC and BC Soccer players, as well as local coaches and referees.
• Do you have a model for integrating your academy with the first team? How closely do your academy teams resemble the way the first team trains and plays?
Integration is practiced throughout the club. For instance, this past MLS preseason the roster included 11 WFC2 players - including three who are still eligible for the USSDA U-18 side, as well as a 15–year–old. Throughout the year, there are a number of tangible examples of WFC2 and Residency players training with the first team, then going back to their teams and take the lessons that they’ve learned. The first team coaches and players also attend WFC2 and Residency sessions and matches.
• What’s your philosophy on the use of technology in your training and preparation for matches?
Technology is used as a tool to help coaches and players throughout the club. It helps coaches make better, more informed decisions, in an efficient manner. It is also used to educate, track, and inform players.
• Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?
The club is very proud to have one of the best partners in the league with Bell Canada as the Premier Founding Partner, which includes the kit sponsorship for the MLS, USL, and USSDA teams. Total sponsorship revenue for 2016 has increased significantly over 2015 and approximately 40% over the last three seasons.
• Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season?
All 34 regular season and MLS Cup playoff matches are available nationally on TSN.
• Local radio deal: How many of your games this season are broadcast on local radio? In English? In other languages?
All first team matches are available on TSN Radio Vancouver in English.
• How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?
There are 85 full-time front office employees, which includes close to 10 new positions in the past year. In addition, there are approximately 50 others either part or full-time at the training centres or academy centres across the country.
• Have you hired any additional technical staff over the past year to reduce doubling-up roles? Are you planning on expanding your technical staff in the near future?
The club is always evaluating on how it can get better.
Last year, the club invested in a USL team that includes a technical staff comprised of promotions within the soccer operations staff, as well as new additions.
In addition, this past January the club hired Robert Earnshaw as the U-14 Pre-Residency head coach. Earnshaw brings first-hand knowledge of the club’s culture, systems, standards, players, and coaches, as well as an abundance of experience at the highest levels.