VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Friday that the club has signed two Canadians and four 2022 MLS SuperDraft selections to MLS NEXT Pro professional contracts through 2022, with options for 2023.
Added to the roster are wingback/winger Ali Ahmed, midfielders Giovanni Aguilar and Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador, and forwards Simon Becher, Théo Collomb, and Filip Rakic.
“This is exactly the reason why we have MLS NEXT Pro, to give players the opportunity to grow into their professional careers,” said Axel Schuster, Whitecaps FC sporting director. “All six players are coming into their first pro seasons, so this will be a great platform to continue to develop and prepare for the MLS level.”
Ahmed, 21, joined the Whitecaps FC U-23 team in 2020 after an extended trial. The native of Toronto, Ontario spent preseason with the first team, traveling to San Diego and making four appearances, including one start.
Aguilar, 24, joins WFC2 on a transfer from Sacramento Republic FC after playing in the club's academy and signing with the USL Championship side in December, prior to being selected 49th overall by Whitecaps FC in the second round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. Aguilar made three preseason appearances with the Whitecaps FC first team, scoring against San Diego Loyal SC and LA Galaxy.
In his final collegiate season, the native of Olivehurst, California was named to the Big West All-Conference First Team after recording three goals and a team-leading three assists in 17 starts for California State University Northridge in 2021.
Fernandez-Salvador, 21, was selected 44th overall by Whitecaps FC in the second round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. The midfielder played a key role in helping the University of Clemson win the 2021 NCAA national championship, earning a spot on the College Cup All-Tournament Team.
Originally hailing from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Fernandez-Salvador scored eight goals and recorded five assists in 23 appearances and 16 starts in his senior season. Overall, he finished his collegiate career with 11 goals and 14 assists in 69 appearances and 51 starts.
Becher, 22, was selected 16th overall by Whitecaps FC in the first round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. At Saint Louis University, the native of Brooklyn, Connecticut scored 21 goals and recorded 13 assists in three seasons from 2019 to 2021. Prior to playing with the Billikens, Becher played his freshman season at Holy Cross University and led the Crusaders with seven goals, adding three assists.
In his final collegiate season in 2021, Becher finished tied for first in NCAA goal contributions with 14 goals and 10 assists. For his efforts he was named a First Team All-American by United Soccer Coaches, Atlantic 10 Conference Offensive Player of the Year and first-team All-Conference, Top Drawer Soccer First Team Best XI, and a Hermann Trophy semifinalist.
Collomb, 21, was selected 72nd overall by Whitecaps FC in the third round of the 2022 MLS SuperDraft. In his second of two seasons at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, Collomb led the NCAA during the regular season in goals (15) and goals per game (1.00), adding five assists. For his efforts he was named 2021 Southern Conference Player of the Year and to the United Soccer Coaches All Region First Team.
A native of Clermont, France, Collomb played three seasons on the second team of French club Clermont Foot 63, starting 15 of his 30 appearances and scoring nine goals.
Rakic, 21, was a member of the Whitecaps FC BMO MLS Academy as a 12-year-old in 2015, joining from the Italian Canadian Sports Federation (ICSF). Most recently, the native of Burnaby, BC played with local side FC Tigers in the Fraser Valley Soccer League (FVSL), while also previously playing in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PSCL) with Port Moody SC.
Weight: 155 pounds
Date of Birth: October 10, 2000 in Toronto, ON
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Youth Club: Toronto Youth FC
Weight: 176 pounds
Date of Birth: March 8, 1998 in Yuba City, California
Hometown: Olivehurst, California
Citizenship: United States
University: California State University Northridge
Youth Club: Sacramento Republic FC
Luis Felipe Fernandez-Salvador
Weight: 166 pounds
Date of Birth: February 28, 2000 in Guayaquil, Ecuador
Hometown: Royal Palm Beach, Florida
Citizenship: Ecuador, United States
University: Clemson University
Youth Club: Shattuck St. Mary's
Weight: 190 pounds
Date of Birth: July 20, 1999 in Topeka, Kansas
Hometown: Brooklyn, Connecticut
Citizenship: United States
University: Saint Louis University
Youth Club: Oakwood SC
Weight: 172 pounds
Date of Birth: July 11, 2000 in Clermont-Ferrand, France
Hometown: Clermont, France
University: University of North Carolina Greensboro
Youth Club: Clermont Foot 63
Weight: 170 pounds
Date of Birth: November 10, 2000 in Valjevo, Serbia
Hometown: Burnaby, BC
Youth Clubs: FC Tigers, Port Moody SC, ICSF, Whitecaps FC BMO MLS Academy