NBA superstar Steve Nash announced Friday that he has invested in the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the team's bid to bring Major League Soccer to the city.
The Whitecaps currently play in the United Soccer League First Division, one level below MLS, but are looking to become one of two expansion teams that will begin play in MLS in 2011.
Nash said he would not be a majority owner, but will put a significant amount of money toward the project. Nash will join current Whitecaps owner Greg Kerfoot.
"I am really excited to be a part of the Whitecaps organization and play a role in our application to join Major League Soccer," said Nash. "This new partnership is a great fit for me. My passion for soccer and commitment to the community is well aligned with the Whitecaps vision."
"The Whitecaps are one of the top professional soccer clubs in North America, and Vancouver is a world-class city," added Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. "We have a strong and dedicated ownership team, a clear vision, and have demonstrated leadership in soccer in North America."
Nash, a two-time most valuable player in the NBA, is a longtime soccer fan and his younger brother Martin currently plays for the Whitecaps.
MLS commissioner Don Garber announced Thursday that the league's board of governors approved plans to expand by two teams by 2011.
Garber said cities that were reviewed in the meeting as possible expansion candidates include Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.
Atlanta, Las Vegas, Portland and St. Louis are also being considered, as is a second team in New York.
Garber did not say when a decision would be made as to which cities will be granted an expansion club.
But Montreal and Vancouver are thought to have strong chances.
One name that has been bandied about as potential owner of a expansion club is George Gillett Jr., an American businessman who owns the Montreal Canadiens.
Launched in 1996, MLS has grown from a modest eight-team league that garnered little attention from the sports media to a 14-team operation in 2008 that features one of the most famous athletes on the planet, David Beckham.
Toronto FC, the first Canadian club in MLS, joined the league in 2007.
MLS will expand to 16 clubs with the addition of a team in Seattle in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010.