The iconic Vancouver Whitecaps name and logo has a long and rich history. The original team was born on December 11, 1973, by both Denny Veitch and Herb Capozzi in the original North American Soccer League (NASL).
How the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Name Was Created
50 YEARS OF THE WHITECAPS 🎂⚪️
— TrueNorthFoot ⚽️🇨🇦 (@truenorthfoot) December 11, 2023
Denny Veitch was known to have created the club’s name; this is what the sourced Vancouver Whitecaps FC article stated:
“It came to him while he was driving across Lions Gate Bridge on a beautiful sunny afternoon. He looked down and saw the whitecaps on the ocean and looked up and saw the whitecaps on the mountains, and thus Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club was born.”
In that same article, it was revealed the name, the “Vancouver Whitecaps” club, was founded on December 11, 1973 to play in the original North American Soccer League.
1979 was a magical year for the team as they won the NASL Championship. This was the first championship the Whitecaps won in the first-tier division league. However, the league struggled financially, and both the league and team folded in 1984.
Only two years later though, the Vancouver 86ers (the team the current Whitecaps can theoretically be traced from) came into being. They won the first-tier division Canadian Soccer League championships four times in their history before the league folded in 1992. They then joined the second-tier division of U.S. soccer from 1993-2010. In 2001, they got rid of the “86ers” logo and started using the “Whitecaps” name, something that has been kept more than 20 years later.
How Vancouver Got Into MLS
The Whitecaps submitted an MLS application back in 2008 to enter the league. This is what then Whitecaps president, Bobby Lenarduzzi, said about the move (source: Marc Weber of the Whitecaps FC):
In that same Weber article, this is what then NBA All-Star for the Phoenix Suns said:
Steve Nash said: “I’m excited to bring the Vancouver Whitecaps to the highest level of soccer in North America. We deserve this bid and we’ll have a team in the near future.”
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Because of this head start, the Whitecaps became the 17th MLS and second Canadian team to enter MLS on March 18, 2009. They were in fact the first of two teams announced with the Portland Timbers also getting a MLS club for the 2011 MLS season. The other cities in contention included Atlanta, a second New York City team, Las Vegas, as well as Canadian cities with both Montreal and Ottawa (source: Sportsnet Staff from the Canadian Press).
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The MLS Vancouver Whitecaps FC Logo
The MLS Whitecaps logo looks more polished than the one they had in the second-division. Furthermore, the logo looks clean and concise. This is what Paul Barber, who then was working with the Whitecaps, thought of the logo (source: Kelcey Brade, Hilary Atkinson, of CTV News):
“We’ve tried to combine the best of what this city brings to the people,” said Paul Barber, Whitecaps FC chief executive officer. “I think the logo represents that very, very nicely with the Whitecaps in every single way.”
In the same article, here is how they described the logo:
“The new logo features the famous Vancouver North Shore white-capped mountain tops standing tall on top of the club’s name: Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The mountains reflect down on the city’s waterfront in a sea blue mirror image. The blue colour is “Whitecaps blue” and represents the logo worn during the club’s 1979 Soccer Bowl championship.”
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Of course, the 1979 Soccer Bowl is the very first-division championship Vancouver has won in its city’s history, which was won at BC Place. The other four first-division championship titles won by a Vancouver-based team happened in the old Canadian Soccer League that was in operation from 1987-92. That team became the Vancouver Whitecaps, and later, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC when they joined MLS (history from the 86ers/Whitecaps era did not carry over to MLS).
Furthermore, the colour blue can also be seen with their NHL team, the Vancouver Canucks. Additionally, the North Shore mountains covered in snow is a big tourist destination in Vancouver. This is especially true when there is an article on where the best views of these mountains are (source: Clare Hennig of CBC News), so definitely having it in the logo is a must along with the Vancouver’s Waterfront.
Games at Empire Field – BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps
The Whitecaps played most of its inaugural season at Empire Field. In that game, Atiba Harris and Terry Dunfield scored one goal each. This is while Eric Hassli scored two goals in that 4-2 win over their Canadian rivals, Toronto FC with a crowd of 22,592 fans. In their second home game, they came from behind to draw against Sporting Kansas City as Camilo Sanvezzo scored two late stoppage time goals in a 3-3 draw with 20,518 people in attendance.
It was a special evening for everyone, as this is what the Whitecaps inaugural MLS head coach, said about the game (source: DH Vancouver Staff of DH News):
“It was something really special to be apart of,” said head coach Teitur Thordason.
It is a bit ironic that Hassli and Dunfield later played for TFC, with the latter even being an interim head coach last year.
The last game at Empire Field was a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders FC on September 24, 2011. They then played their last three home games in 2011 at BC Place, with one loss and two wins at the venue in 2011. Since then, BC Place has been the permanent venue of the Whitecaps and the CFL’s BC Lions (the Lions used Empire Field from 2010-11). In fact, in the 2011 Grey Cup Final, the Lions won the Grey Cup against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Place.
Plans Ahead for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Games Coming Up
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The Whitecaps will own a professional women’s soccer team next year, which is yet to be named. That team will play next year in the brand new Project 8 Sports league. This means that the Cascadia region will have at least three professional women’s sports teams by 2025, along with the Portland Thorns and the Seattle Reigns.
As for games coming up, there are plenty for the Whitecaps fans to look forward to. After winning the 2023 Voyageurs Cup, they will be one of three teams participating in the Concacaf Champions Cup competition. However, they will play their first game this year at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia (Greater Victoria) and then play at Estadio Universitario in San Nicolás de los Garza, Mexico. The team they will face in both legs will be UANL with the first leg on February 7 at 7:00 PM ET and the second leg on February 24 at 5:00 PM ET. It is unclear how these games will be shown as of right now.
The Whitecaps will open the season on the road against Charlotte FC at 7:30 PM ET at the Bank of America Stadium on March 2 and then will host the San Jose Earthquakes on March 9, 2024 at 10:30 PM ET. Both these games will be shown on Apple TV.
Note: Information on the Vancouver Whitecaps FC stadium, BC Place, can be seen in the FIFA World Cup article link above.
Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports, with a Headshot of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Mascot, Spike, on November 5, 2023.