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Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 2016 USL Season Preview

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The Whitecaps USL squad kick off their second year of competition

WFC 2

FOUNDED: 2015

AFFILIATION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (MLS)

2015 RECORD: 8-14-6

2015 PLAYOFFS: DID NOT QUALIFY

Key Additions/Losses

WFC 2 have brought back a large number of personnel rom 2015, including Head Coach Alan Koch. Perhaps the most intriguing new addition is 15 year old Alphonso Davies, who at the time of his signing in February, was the youngest player in the USL. He played with the Whitecaps in some pre-season matches and looked raw, but was dripping with potential. As well, 23 year old Canadian Daniel Haber joins the squad up top, and the team has also given high praise to midfielder Fatawu Saifu.

The club also brought in some veteran leadership, signing USL veteran Kyle Grieg and naming him team captain. The 26 year old forward spent the past two seasons with the Oklahoma City Energy.

As for notable losses, the Whitecaps declined to bring back midfielder Andre Lewis, defender Ethen Sampson, and striker Caleb Clarke. Marco Bustos was signed to the big club, and WFC 2 will no doubt miss his team leading 2.59 shots per game.

Projected Starting 11

Sean Melvin, Chris Serban, Sem De Wit, Jackson Farmer, Brett Levis, Giuilano Frano, Victor Blasco, Matthew Baldisimo, Fatawu Safiu, Kyle Grieg, Daniel Haber

Heading into 2016

There was a fair amount of slack given to the players and personnel for WFC2 in 2015, considering it was their first ever year in the USL. Much like their MLS counterparts in 2011, they had to feel their way around the league before they could get truly comfortable. In the end, the boys missed the playoffs and only put together 8 wins, and that will obviously need to improve this time around.

A large amount of the 2015 roster is back, and will hope to finish a little further from the bottom of the table in 2016. The team is hoping to see continued growth from known contributors like Victor Blasco, and some production from new faces as well. For example, Canadian Daniel Haber had an impressive six goals during the pre-season and will be counted on to continue his production once the regular season begins.

Why you should watch in 2016

Under Head Coach Alan Koch, WFC2 proved to be an exciting team in 2015. This is a club that averaged the seventh most shots per game in the league last season, and scored a fair amount of goals too. Plus, given the way the Whitecaps like to draft and develop, there's a good chance you're watching some future MLS'ers patrolling the pitch in Burnaby.

Three Players to Watch

1) Fatawu Safiu, M

The 21 year old midfielder from Ghana joined WFC 2 after spending 2015 with the Portland Timbers 2, and he seems to be fitting right in. He had an assist in his new club's pre-season ending win against Oregon State back on March 19th, and Head Coach Alan Koch said, "You can see Fatawu is a winner." He was sixth in the league last season in shots per game, with 2.91.

2) Alphonso Davies F

The 15 year old from Edmonton turned some heads when he trained with the MLS Whitecaps during the pre-season, and while it's not clear how much time he'll get on the pitch in the USL this season, it is clear Whitecaps brass must be very impressed with this young man. Davies has plenty of time to work on his game and grow into a pro soccer player, and man will it ever be fun to watch him start that journey with WFC 2. He could be a breakout player for the team this season.

3) Matthew Baldisimo

Another young player, Baldisimo is just 18 years old, and hails from Burnaby, BC. He has a fine Canadian pedigree, having played in the Whitecaps residency program for four years, and featuring on Canadian U-15 and U-17 teams as well. He likely won't get a ton of time this season, but it will be interesting to see how Koch utilizes him, and the other youngsters on the roster.

The 2016 Season Will be a Success If..

If the team can simply improve on their point total from 2015, you would have to think that's a major positive. If the club can make the post-season, or at least challenge for a spot in just their second year of existence, I'd call that successful.