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VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that the club has selected former CF Montréal centre back Karifa Yao in Stage 1 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

“Karifa is a young centre back who is good in the air, comfortable on the ball, and strong in one-v-one defending,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC sporting director. “He’s shown his qualities in the Canadian Premier League with Cavalry, as well as the game against us in the Canadian Championship. Karifa will add depth to our backline and we’re excited to help his development as he takes the next step in his career.”

Whitecaps FC centre back Karifa Yao

  • Started all 28 of his appearances across all competitions for Cavalry FC in 2022
  • Came through the CF Montréal youth system, signed a Homegrown contract in June 2019
  • Has made 83 appearances at the professional club level

Yao, 22, started all 28 of his appearances across all competitions on-loan with Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC in 2022, helping the team reach the semifinals of the Canadian Premier League Playoffs. In total, the native of Montréal, Québec started 53 of his 56 appearances for Cavalry FC across two seasons, adding two goals and two assists.

Prior to joining Cavalry on loan, Yao recorded one start and two appearances for CF Montréal, having signed as a Homegrown Player in June 2019 when the club was known as Impact Montréal. Yao originally joined Montréal's academy in 2017, starting with the U-17 team before playing two seasons with the U-19s in the development academy.

In his youth, Yao played with amateur club Étoiles de l’Est before joining the Impact academy.

TRANSACTION: On November 17, Whitecaps FC select defender Karifa Yao in Stage 1 of the MLS Re-Entry Draft.

Karifa Yao
Pronunciation: ka-ree-fa ya-o
Position: Defender
Height: 6-02
Weight: 180 pounds
Date of Birth: September 28, 2000 in Montréal, Québec
Hometown: Montréal, Québec
Citizenship: Canada
Status: Domestic
Previous Teams: CF Montréal (2019-22), Cavalry FC (2021-22 – on loan)
Youth Team: Étoiles de l'Est
Instagram: @karifa_choco
Twitter: @Karifa87