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Vancouver Whitecaps Karifa Yao

USL Newcomers Rhode Island Sign Karifa Yao

By on January 23, 2024 0 825 Views

Former Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montreal defender Karifa Yao may have been a highly-touted free agent amongst CPL circles, but the defender has signed with USL Championship expansion side Rhode Island FC instead.

The 23-year-old defender makes history as the first Canadian to sign with the side, though his transfer is still awaiting league and federation approval.

Yao’s professional career got its start with CF Montreal, though he’ll be more well-known to Canadian Premier League fans after he firmly established himself as a league-leading defender whilst on loan with Cavalry through two subsequent loan spells.

2021 Canadian Premier League Playoff Cavalry Pacific
Photo Credit: Canadian Premier League

After CF Montreal let him go last year, the Whitecaps had moved quickly to pick Yao m up – though last season saw him only procured five appearances across all competitions before departing.

We had speculated that a return to the Canadian Premier League would be a good fit, but Rhode Island certainly proves an intriguing destination as well – and one that potentially nets the defender a higher paycheck. It looks like Yao will get good minutes there, and at his age he’s at a time where he needs them consistently to grow.

He isn’t the only former CPL loanee with MLS experience (specific, we know) to look stateside for their next destination, with Sean Rea currently trialing with the Portland Timbers.

The 2024 USL Championship season will be Rhode Island FC’s first, with Bermudan head coach Khano Smith recruiting 18 players to the inaugural roster so far.

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