Vancouver Whitecaps FC announce that defenders Takashi Hirano and Geordie Lyall will return for the 2009 season. Lyall has agreed to a new one-year contract with the Whitecaps, while the club has exercised the contract option of former Japanese international Hirano for the coming campaign.
Hirano, 34-years-old, returns for a second season with the 'Caps after a successful first year in 2008. A regular at left fullback for head coach Teitur Thordarson, the native of Shimizu City, Japan, made 30 appearances in all competitions for a total of 2,085 minutes of action. This included starts in all four of the Whitecaps matches in the Nutrilite Canadian Championship and four substitute appearances during the club's successful playoff run to the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) championship title. Hirano's lone goal last season came in a 1-1 draw at Puerto Rico Islanders on August 31.
A veteran of over 360 appearances during a 15-year career in Japan's J.League Division One (J1), Hirano signed a one-year contract - plus an option - with the Whitecaps back on March 12, 2008, after leaving J1 club Omiya Ardija in January of that year.
Lyall, 32, returns for an 11th straight season with The Blue & White, having first appeared for Vancouver during the 1999 campaign. The native of Victoria, BC, endured a frustrating 2008, as injuries limited the former University of Victoria standout to eight USL-1 appearances for 438 minutes of action. In ten seasons with the 'Caps, the speedy and versatile Lyall has scored five goals and recorded five assists in 185 career appearances. During the club's championship season of 2006, Lyall was named to the USL-1 All-League First Team and was nominated for the league's Defender of the Year award.
Though he has appeared in each of Vancouver's last 10 seasons, Lyall missed the first half of 2007 following a short spell with Walsall FC of England's Football League Two. The defender made 11 appearances and scored one goal with Walsall’s reserves before the Saddlers released him in May of that year.
Whitecaps 2009 season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets include all men’s and women's team regular season and playoff home matches at Swangard Stadium, Nutrilite Canadian Championship home matches against Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, as well as priority listing for BC Place and the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. For more information on the 2009 season ticket packages, call 604.669.WAVE (9283) or CLICK HERE.