Vancouver Whitecaps pick up former CF Montreal defender in MLS re-entry draft

Montreal Impact's Karifa Yao, left, and New England Revolution's Teal Bunbury, right, keep their eyes on the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up Canadian defender Yao in Major League Soccer's re-entry draft on Thursday. (CP/AP -Steven Senne)

The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up Canadian defender Karifa Yao in Major League Soccer’s re-entry draft on Thursday. 

The 22-year-old centre back from Montreal came up through CF Montreal’s academy and signed a contract with the MLS team in June 2019.

He spent the last two seasons on loan to Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC, starting in 53 of 56 appearances and tallying two goals and two assists.  

Whitecaps sporting director Axel Schuster says in a release that the six-foot-two, 180-pound Yao will add depth to Vancouver’s backline, and is good in the air, comfortable on the ball, and strong in one-on-one defending.

Vancouver also inked striker Simon Becher to a one-year MLS deal Thursday, with club options for 2024, 2025 and 2026.

The club picked the 23-year-old American in the league’s SuperDraft in January and he spent much of last season playing for WFC2 in the MLS NEXT Pro development league. 

Becher led the team with eight goals in 22 appearance and four assists, and was called up to the Whitecaps twice, making his MLS debut against the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 5.

The Whitecaps have also announced that the club will kick off its CONCACAF Champions League campaign in Vancouver on March 8 when it hosts Real CD Espana in the round of 16.

The second leg of the series will be played at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on March 15.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.