VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced the winners of the club's 2023 Player Awards on Sunday, with attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld receiving the Player of the Year award for a second consecutive season.
Player of the Year: Ryan Gauld
Since arriving in Vancouver in 2021, attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld has been a constant figure in the ‘Caps attack. However, in 2023, the 27-year-old Scotsman caught the eyes of the whole league with his creativity in the final third.
Gauld, who was named a candidate for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award, has tallied 12 goals as well as a team-high 17 assists across 40 starts and 42 appearances in all competitions this season. In MLS play, the attacking midfielder was at the top of many in-depth statistics on both sides of the ball, including big chances created (18 – third in MLS), expected assists (8.93 – fifth in MLS), chances created (78 – sixth in MLS), expected goals (12.29 – ninth in MLS), and tackles (64 – 19th in MLS). Gauld finished the season ninth in goal contributions in the regular season with 23 (11 goals, 12 assists).
Gauld also etched his name in club history several times during the year, becoming the 'Caps all-time leader in assists in the club's MLS era with 33 helpers across all competitions as well as the all-time leader in MLS assists with 28.
Humanitarian of the Year: Russell Teibert
Russell Teibert embodies the values of Whitecaps FC both on and off the pitch throughout the season to take home the club’s Humanitarian of the Year award for the second time in his career. The native of Niagara Falls, Ontario last won the award in 2017.
This year, Teibert invited members of the Penelakut Tribe to a match at BC Place. To mark the special occasion, Teibert wore a sweater gifted to him from the Penelakut community to the match. In addition, the midfielder took a special trip to Penelakut Island when Whitecaps FC won the Canadian Championship and celebrated alongside the community.
As part of the club’s Player Ticket Initiative program, Teibert donated his tickets to Grandview ¿uuqinak'uuh Elementary School, inviting over three-hundred staff and students. After the match, Teibert met each of the students to sign autographs and take photos.
The knowledge obtained by Teibert through his experience as a player with his perspectives and ideas have enriched and elevated community initiatives. He doesn’t do it alone – he inspires his teammates to join him. He inspires supporters to work alongside him, and he works with partners to lift the most vulnerable in our community. For all the contributions mentioned above, and for his passion in giving back to his community, Whitecaps FC’s Community and Social Impact staff selected Teibert as the 2023 Humanitarian of the Year.
Jock MacDonald Unsung Hero: Russell Teibert
Teibert provided leadership throughout the season as Whitecaps FC captain, etching his name in club history.
The BMO Academy product became the first player in the club’s MLS era to reach 300 Whitecaps FC appearances across all competitions, reaching the milestone after coming on as a substitute in a 3-2 away win over Portland Timbers on August 26.
The longtime ‘Caps midfielder was also an important piece of the club’s run in the 2023 Canadian Championship, starting all three matches as the ‘Caps claimed their third Voyageurs Cup.
In memory of Jock MacDonald's dedication to the club, the Unsung Hero Award was created in 2005. Jock was a founding member of the 86ers soccer club and a key to resurrecting professional soccer in Vancouver. His gracious personality and contributions were an important part of the club’s success. The Jock MacDonald Unsung Hero Award is presented annually to a player that demonstrates these values.
The club’s supporter groups - Couch Ultras, Prawnsiders, Rain City Brigade, Southsiders, South Sisters and Vancouver Albion - selected Teibert through a vote as the 2023 recipient.
Domenic Mobilio Golden Boot Award: Brian White
In honour of the late Domenic Mobilio, the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, the Domenic Mobilio Golden Boot Award is given annually to the leading goalscorer on the first team.
Forward Brian White won the award with 15 strikes during the 2023 MLS regular season. In total, White has collected an impressive 20 goals scored across all competitions.
Most Promising Male Player: Ali Ahmed
After impressing with Whitecaps FC 2 last season, midfielder Ali Ahmed showed plenty of promise in his first season as a member of the Whitecaps FC first team.
Ahmed made 17 starts and 30 appearances across all competitions for the ‘Caps, scoring three goals and adding two assists. In addition, Whitecaps FC tallied a 7W-1L-4D record when the 23-year-old started an MLS regular season match this year. Ahmed’s club performances caught the eye of the international stage, as he made his debut for Canada’s men’s national team at the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup during the summer.
Ahmed was voted for the award by a panel of media.
Most Promising Female Player / BMO RESP Academy Female Player: Jeneva Hernandez Gray
Hernandez Gray was a key player for the Whitecaps FC Girls Elite Academy in a historic season that saw the team capture five different trophies.
Over the past two years, Hernandez Gray has come up clutch in the biggest moments. Last year, she scored the winning goal in the League1 BC final, and this year she assisted the winning goal to repeat as champions at BC Place. The native of Coquitlam, BC also scored twice in the 5-4 thriller over Unity FC to clinch the regular season title, and had a goal and an assist in the League1 Canada Inter-Provincial Championship final.
At the international level, Hernandez Gray was called up to represent Canada at the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship, helping the Red & White qualify for the U-20 World Cup.
BMO will also be giving a $1,000 Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to Hernandez Gray for her efforts on and off the pitch.
The club’s Girls Elite Academy staff chose Hernandez Gray for both honours.
BMO RESP Academy Male Player: Kyler Vojvodic
A talented striker from Port Coquitlam, BC, Vojvodic joined the Whitecaps FC BMO MLS Academy in August 2019 after previously playing with Coquitlam Metro-Ford SC in the BC Soccer Premier League.
This past year, Vojvodic played for the Whitecaps FC BMO U-17 Boys Academy in MLS NEXT, as well as with the ‘Caps League1 BC title winning team, and in MLS NEXT Pro with Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2).
During the MLS NEXT season, Vojvodic was named to the 2023 Generation adidas Cup Rising XI. In the summer, Vovodic joined up with the ‘Caps L1BC team, and played in both the semifinal and then championship final at BC Place. He would go on to make his professional debut in the final match of the MLS NEXT Pro season for WFC2 against San Jose Earthquakes II.
At the international level, Vojvodic was the leading scorer for Canada with three goals at the 2023 Concacaf U-17 Championship, helping the Red & White qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
BMO will be giving a $1,000 RESP to Vojvodic for achieving excellence on and off the field. The club’s Academy staff chose him for the honour.
WFC2 Player of the Year: Levonte Johnson
New addition Levonte Johnson brought a dazzling spark to Whitecaps FC 2 with his dynamic play in the final third.
The 24-year-old finished the season as the team’s leading goalscorer with seven goals in 13 starts and 15 appearances. Johnson also led the team in shots on target (20), was fourth in duels (190), sixth in successful dribbles (29), sixth in key passes (15), and added one assist.
The Canadian signed four MLS short-term agreements, scoring on his first team debut against York United FC on May 10 and starting the 2023 Canadian Championship Final. Back in June, Johnson became the third Whitecaps FC 2 MLS NEXT Pro player to sign with the club’s first team.
Johnson was selected for the award by his teammates and WFC2 staff.