Vancouver FC

Vancouver FC Signs Local Teen Grady McDonnell to Three-Year Deal

January 17, 2024 - Canadian Premier League (CPL)
Vancouver FC News Release

Langley, BC - Vancouver FC today announced the signing of Surrey, B.C. native and midfielder Grady McDonnell to a Standard Player Contract through 2026.

McDonnell, 15, becomes one of several promising young teenagers to earn a professional opportunity with VFC since the club launched in 2022, joining 16-year-old Taryck 'TJ' Tahid, from Maple Ridge, B.C., and 18-year-old James Cameron, of North Vancouver, B.C., on Standard Player Contracts. McDonnell is now the youngest player in Canadian Premier League (CPL) history to sign a Standard Player Contract, superseding teammate Tahid, who was 16 years and 16 days old when he inked his first professional contract with the club in May 2023.

"We continue to illustrate our commitment to investing in the top local youth players, and Grady is definitely one of the best B.C. has to offer," said Afshin Ghotbi, Head Coach, Vancouver FC. "I am thrilled to coach one of the most talented young players in Canada and I believe VFC will provide the education and pathway for Grady to realize his footballing dreams."

McDonnell's playing days began with Coastal FC at the age of five before transitioning to Supra Academy, which he represented until the age of 13. He most recently spent time in the Vancouver Whitecaps Academy system, representing the Major League Soccer club at the Under-15 and Under-17 levels.

"I'm incredibly humbled and excited for the opportunity to compete in a professional environment at my age," said McDonnell. "This kind of opportunity is what I've always wanted and the fact that I'm able to achieve this goal with my hometown team, and to play in front of my friends and family, is all I could ask for."

On the international stage, McDonnell has represented both the Republic of Ireland and Canada at the youth levels, collecting 20 and four appearances, respectively, since 2022.

McDonnell, who is eligible to represent the Republic of Ireland because of his father's heritage, received his first international call up from the Boys in Green in September 2022 for an Under-15 training camp ahead of a UEFA Development Tournament. The native of Surrey made his debut for the Republic of Ireland in the opening match of the tournament as a 41st-minute substitute. McDonnell made 13 appearances for the Under-15 team, scoring two goals and registering four assists.

McDonnell was back competing for the Republic of Ireland in the fall of 2023, this time with the Under-16 squad. McDonnell appeared in a pair of friendlies against Estonia and Finland in September of that year before representing the squad in The Victory Shield, an annual tournament at the Under-16 level featuring Scotland, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, in November 2023. McDonnell featured in all four of the Republic of Ireland's games in the tournament and scored the opening goal in the championship match on the way to a 3-1 victory over Northern Ireland. McDonnell also represented the Republic of Ireland at the Under-17 level at the UEFA Championship Qualifiers in October 2023. He started in his lone appearance of the competition.

In August 2023, McDonnell received his first caps for Canada at the Concacaf Boys' Under-15 Championship, playing in all four of Canada's matches before the squad was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals.

In signing with VFC, McDonnell becomes the seventh B.C.-born athlete on Vancouver's 2024 roster, joining goalkeeper Callum Irving, defenders Kadin Chung, Anthony White and Cameron, midfielder Ben Fisk, and forward Tahid.

McDonnell will be available to the media via ZOOM later today. More information on the virtual press conference will be announced shortly.

Last week, Vancouver announced the return of Mikaël Cantave, Vasco Fry, and Renan Garcia to the 2024 squad, as well as the signing of East Vancouver native Fisk to a two-year deal with a club option for 2026.

Further Vancouver FC roster updates and announcements will be made later this month.

Vancouver FC current roster as of Jan. 17, 2024:

Goalkeepers: Callum Irving

Defenders: Kadin Chung, Rocco Romeo, Ibrahim Bakare,Tyler Crawford, Anthony White, James Cameron

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

Forwards: Alejandro 'Wero' Díaz, Mouhamadou 'Mamadou' Kane, Gabriel Bitar, Taryck 'TJ' Tahid, Mikaël Cantave

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