When it comes to young guns on the Vancouver Whitecaps, most of the talk usually surrounds the attack and the club's stable of youthful forwards. Last week though, the club went into Portland with a pair of question marks in their starting 11; The young Center Back pairing of Christian Dean and Tim Parker.
Well, you can count Vancouver Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi among those that were impressed with the duo's performance.
Speaking with Eighty Six Forever over the phone, Lenarduzzi seemed particularly impressed with Parker, the young man in his rookie season with the club.
"I think what we're seeing from Tim is a maturity that I think stems from his time at St. Johns University, with the coaches he played for", says Lenarduzzi. "Athletically, he's very sound and mentally he's very strong, and that's going to work well for him in the future."
Lenarduzzi says while it's taken a little longer for Christian Dean to work his way into the lineup, the club still has high hopes for the young Center Back.
"I think with Christian, if you look at his physique, he's a specimen of a man with a great left foot and good speed", says Lenarduzzi. "Really for him, it's just been a matter of, I think, from a mental perspective, understanding he's more than capable of playing at this level."
Lenarduzzi says the Timbers match was great exposure and experience for Dean, and he's hoping the 22 year old can use the game as his launching pad, and maintain the superb form he showed moving forward in the season.
Up front, Lenarduzzi is happy with the Whitecaps young core of forwards, although he believes they have more to give. When speaking about Darren Mattocks, Lenarduzzi notes growth in the Jamaican's maturity level.
"I think Darren has demonstrated an understanding that it is a term sport, and a willingness to work hard when we don't have the ball," says Lenarduzzi. "It's been lacking in the past, but every game he's played in this season, he's demonstrated what Carl Robinson is looking for from every player on the pitch, and that's a good work ethic."
Still, Lenarduzzi knows Mattocks can bring more to the table when it comes to goal scoring.
"I think for someone like Darren, it requires a goal.. We've seen in the past when he gets goals there is a potential there for him to go on a bit of a good run," says Lenarduzzi. "The problem he has is primarily we play with one player up front, and this season it's been Octavio."
Lenarduzzi says Mattocks' willingness to play the flank when he's more comfortable up top is just another indication of his increased professionalism this season.
The Vancouver Whitecaps may have plenty of studs on their roster, but you have to think that for them to be truly successful, they're going to need significant contributions from their young players.
Whether it be Kekuta Manneh or Darren Mattocks stepping up to score a goal, or Tim Parker and Christian Dean stepping up to clear one away, the continued growth of their prospects is key moving forward.