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What To Expect From the Youngsters

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What to expect from four youngsters heading into 2016

Kianz Froese headlines a group of talented youngsters heading into 2016
Kianz Froese headlines a group of talented youngsters heading into 2016
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into Carl Robinson’s third year as boss, the Whitecaps roster is a young nucleus that has grown together and, for the most part, ‘Caps supporters know what they’ll be getting from every player on the roster.  Last year’s biggest question marks (Christian Dean and Tim Parker) both made big strides, one of whom played his way from Whitecaps FC 2 right into the Whitecaps starting eleven on a weekly basis.  This year there are four such players who come in with varying expectations, from a player who could play himself into the starting eleven if things go awry to a player who might be looking at his last chance to break into the first team in 2016.  All aboard, next stop expectation station!

Kianz Froese

Froese made a big jump in 2015, passing several established first team players on the depth chart and pushing Erik Hurtado to Scandinavia for the last half of the year.  After a very impressive string of appearances during the early part of the schedule, Froese found himself on the outside looking in for the rest of the MLS campaign.  With another full preseason under his belt with the first team, Froese should go from spot duty and Voyageurs Cup starts to one of the first players off the bench in 2016.

First Team Expectation: 15 starts in all competitions, 3-5 goals.

Marco Bustos

Bustos’ 2015 was derailed before it could get started with the midfielder suffering a foot injury that kept him out of action until summer, but when he returned for WFC2 he wasted no time in reminding ‘Caps supporters what his potential looks like.  In just fifteen starts for the USL side he netted seven goals and added two assists while being named to the USL team of the week on several occasions.  Bustos continued his late season rise by adding debuts in both MLS and on international duty with Canada.  With both the Voyageurs Cup and Champions League again on the ‘Caps schedule, Bustos should be in line to take another big step in his development in 2016 while still playing regularly for Whitecaps FC 2.

First Team Expectation: 5 starts in all competitions, 1-3 goals.

Ben McKendry

When the Vancouver product McKendry signed a professional contract with the Whitecaps in January of 2015, optimism was high.  He was a graduate of the ‘Caps residency program and starred for the University of New Mexico before coming home to sign his first pro contract.  He did well before a torn meniscus ended his first season of professional soccer last summer.  Recently cleared to train fully and with a logjam of talent ahead of him, this season is a big one for McKendry to show he can cut it at the next level.  He should continue to be a regular for WFC2 and could see his first team debut in either the Voyageurs Cup or in the Champions League.

First Team Expectations: 1-3 starts in all competitions.

Cole Seiler

If Seiler walks into big expectations for his rookie season in MLS, he can thank teammate Tim Parker for that.  Selected three spots apart in 2015 and 2016, the similarities don’t end there.  Both were praised by Carl Robinson following their selections as the player he desired and as extremely intelligent players.  Parker did more than live up to those claims, rising from USL starter to MLS Playoff starter in a little under nine months.  While Seiler may not follow that exact trajectory, it shouldn’t be a surprise to supporters if Seiler has passed Pa-Modou Kah and even Christian Dean by seasons end.  With a small sample size to judge from, Seiler looks to be smart off the ball and savvy with the ball at his feet and could play a bigger part in the first team than expected.  At the very least, he should plug in next to Dean in USL play and could see some starts in Voyageurs Cup play.

First Team Expectations: 1-3 starts in all competitions.

With young talent filling out the depth chart at every position and a minimum of 39 matches on the docket for 2016, 'Caps fans should be treated to another year of new talent bleeding into the first team and serious runs in all three competitions the Whitecaps find themselves in.

Do you see bigger roles for Froese, Bustos, McKendry or Seiler for the first team this year? Any other plays you think could be this years big riser? Let us know in the comments!