Ali Ahmed was one of the standout players for Whitecaps FC 2 in MLS NEXT Pro and now has a major opportunity to impress with the first team in 2023. 

Ahmed signed a first-team contract with the Whitecaps on Wednesday, taking him through the 2025 MLS season. The Whitecaps also have an option to extend Ahmed’s contract for an additional season through 2026.

“Ali’s journey has not been linear,” Whitecaps FC sporting director Axel Schuster said Wednesday. “He is a great example that if you are talented and have the drive to work and learn, you can make it from anywhere to the top league in North America. He is also proof of how important it is to have MLS NEXT Pro as part of our development pyramid.

“Ali has impressed us by being one of the most consistent and impactful players on our WFC2 team and he deserves to make this next step in his career. He possesses a lot of quality and at the same time we believe he still has a lot of potential for growth.”

Ahmed led Whitecaps FC 2 with five assists in 15 MLS NEXT Pro appearances in 2022. He was later named the WFC2 Player of the Year. Ahmed also led the team in tackles (39), successful dribbles (21), and was second in key passes (17).

The 22-year-old becomes the first WFC2 MLS NEXT Pro player to sign with the Vancouver first team. Ahmed also made two substitute appearances in MLS, featuring against Austin FC (April 23) and the Houston Dynamo (Aug. 5).

“All praise to God for this moment," said Ahmed. "It’s a really big moment for me and my family, hopefully just the start. It’s a dream come true to sign with the first team here in Vancouver. The club has given me the opportunity to grow, develop, and prove myself with the second team, which played a big role in getting me to this point and for that I’m very grateful. Big thanks to my family, friends, ATG and all the coaches who have helped me along the way. I am looking forward to getting right to work and helping the club take that next step."