Karifa Yao Makes ‘Caps Debut In Champions League
When Karifa Yao took his first competitive steps onto thep itch for the Vancouver Whitecaps, he did so in a dream scenario: a five-nil Champions League home win.
The 22-year-old had been scooped up by the ‘Caps in short order after he was unexpectedly let go by CF Montreal following two standout seasons on loan in the Canadian Premier League, where he featured some 56 times for Cavalry through back-to-back loan stints.
Yao rode the bench for the club’s opening two regular season matches, both of which resulted in losses for the side. With the ‘Caps five goals in front and putting on a dominant display against Honduran side Real Espana, head coach Vanni Sartini pulled the trigger on seeing how Yao performed in competitive action.
The ‘Caps kept their clean sheet intact.
Yao’s career began when he inked a homegrown player deal with CF Montreal back in June 2019, with the young defender making three appearances for the MLS side before his aforementioned loans to Cavalry FC. Featuring regularly in the CPL, the youngster was quick to establish himself as a consistent performer and, over time, one of the league’s top centre-backs.
Yao becomes the second former CPL athlete to feature in the Champions League for an MLS team, with Joel Waterman being the first. By an odd coindence, Waterman’s club debut for CF Montreal also came in a Champions League match back when they faced Deportivo Saprissa.