The Vancouver Whitecaps FC is fresh on the MLS scene, but in reality, the Whitecaps story spans back decades and illustrates the growth of soccer throughout British Columbia, Canada. The Vancouver Whitecaps were originally members of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and became one of the league's best teams. However, when the league folded in 1984, the Whitecaps joined the newly-formed Canadian Soccer League (CSL) in 1986 and changed their name to the 86ers. The team would prove to be a powerhouse and win four-straight league championship titles.
In 1992, the CSL folded and the 86ers joined the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) and enjoyed many great years with the league. In the early 2000s, the 86ers finally changed their name back to the Whitecaps and set about becoming one of the most respected football clubs in the region. After merging with the women's Vancouver Breakers, the Whitecaps FC launched a series of youth development programs and began construction on the Whitecaps Training Centre. Now members of the USL (United Soccer Leagues) group, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC won an unprecedented amount of titles and began to weigh the interest of the MLS of potentially joining the league.
In 2009, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC was formally admitted to the MLS and became only the second Canadian team in the league's history. The team would begin play at Empire Field before moving to BC Place. The arena is one of the premier soccer venues in North America and was renovated in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Whitecaps made their huge jump to the professional ranks with another MLS first on March 19, 2011. The 'Caps met Toronto FC in the first matchup between two Canadian teams and Vancouver would be hot out of the gate with a 4-2 victory.
While the Whitecaps got off to a quick start, they couldn't maintain the pace and finished with a 6-10-18 record. This finish wasn't what they hoped for, but the team is very encouraged by the groundswell of support from the local community. Unlike other MLS franchises that have to start from scratch, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC is already interwoven in the fabric of the city's athletic community and looks like they will have no trouble getting people excited about the prospect of professional soccer in British Columbia.