Skip to content

Roster changes revealed for Lower Mainland’s newest pro soccer team

Ahead of Vancouver FC’s 2nd season, they sign forward Jose Navarro and part ways with Ibrahim Bakare
Ibrahim Bakare joins Vancouver FC as a centre-back in March 2023, and now parted ways with the Langley-based pro soceer team. (Beau Chevalier, Vancouver FC/Special to Langley Advance Times)

In preparation for the upcoming second season of Langley’s new pro soccer team, some changes are being made.

That includes the departure of one young player, and the addition of a slightly younger.

The Vancouver Football Club (VFC) has parted ways with defender Ibrahim Bakare by what head coach Afshin Ghotbi called a mutual agreement.

Bakare, 21, joined Vancouver’s inaugural roster in March 2023.

The native of London, England, made 19 starts in 26 appearances during the club’s first season in the Canadian Premier League (CPL).

“On behalf of everyone at VFC, I would like to extend a big thank you to Ibrahim for his contribution to our historic first season in the CPL,” Ghotbi added, wishing “him monumental success and achievements in his future career.”

Meanwhile, the very next day the team announced that another international player had joined the VFC ranks.

The club, which plays out of the new Willoughby Stadium next to Langley Events Centre, signed Mexican international Jose Navarro on a two-year contract plus club options, which could keep the forward with the league through 2027.

“I am very excited to join Vancouver and play a part in growing this club,” Navarro said just days before his 21st birthday.

“Having the opportunity to play professional soccer in a top-tier league is something that is very important to me and I’m looking forward to the competition I’ll face in this new chapter,” the newest VFC player said.

Navarro, whose birthday is Tuesday, Feb. 20, joins VFC from Mexico’s UNAM Pumas.

The forward has spent the entirety of his career to date with Pumas, after joining the club’s development system at the age of 13 and moving through its ranks during the past seven years.

Navarro made his debut with Pumas’ senior team in Liga, Mexico – the country’s top flight of football – when he came on as a late substitute in a match against Club Necaxa in July 2022.

He has since featured for the club’s U-20 and U-23 sides in 27 matches, scoring three goals.

Other highlights of his time with Pumas include scoring an impressive half-field goal in a 5-0 victory over Mazatlan U20 in July 2022, winning the Sub-20 Aperture championship in October 2022, and burying a game-winning penalty shot in injury time against Atlas U23 in November 2023 – an emphatic way to score his first goal of the campaign.

“Navarro’s physical power, work rate, and presence in the penalty box will make him one of the most exciting young strikers in the Canadian Premier League,” said Ghotbi.

“A product of one of the best football clubs in Mexico, UNAM Pumas, Navarro possesses the qualities to complement Alejandro Diaz and company to make VFC a goal-dangerous team in the 2024 season,” concluded the head coach.

Navarro will join Vancouver’s squad for pre-season training in Langley.

As it stands now, the VFC roster includes the following:

Goalkeepers: Callum Irving;

Defenders: Kadin Chung, Rocco Romeo, Tyler Crawford, Anthony White, James Cameron, Paris Gee, and David Norman;

Midfielders: Elliot Simmons, Ben Fisk, Vasco Fry, Renan Garcia, and Grady McDonnell;

Forwards: Alejandro ‘Wero’ Díaz, Mouhamadou ‘Mamadou’ Kane, Gabriel Bitar, Taryck ‘TJ’ Tahid, Mikaël Cantave, and – of course – Navarro.

Further Vancouver roster announcements are expected to be made later this month.


Vancouver FC also recently announced the departure of assistant coaches Niall Thompson and Arez Ardalani, following the club’s inaugural season.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to Niall and Arez for their dedication to VFC in our historic first season,” Ghotbi said.

“They will both forever be part of the VFC family.”

Thompson and Ardalani both joined Ghotbi’s coaching staff in January 2023.

Thompson brought his experience as both a former member of the Canadian Men’s National Team and as a local coach with Surrey United Soccer Club, while Ardalani added his head coaching experience following a stint with Texas United FC of United Soccer League (League Two).

“I truly enjoyed my collaboration with Niall in our inaugural season, and I want to personally thank him for his friendship, support and loyalty,” said Ghotbi.

“I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Arez for his support, contributions, and hard work throughout the season.”


RELATED:Vancouver FC soccer pro seeks kidney donor for dad

READ MORE: Hundal will return for second season VFC opener

About the Author: Langley Advance Times Staff

Read more