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WFC2 Retrospective: The Successes

Vancouver Whitecaps II v Phoenix Rising FC Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

WFC2 have folded in favour of a Fresno based affiliate. This has lead to a lot of discussion about whether WFC2 was a worthwhile project or if an affiliate team makes more sense. This article will look at some of the positive effects that WFC2 had.

By my count, 13 players currently signed to the the Vancouver Whitecaps senior team have played at least some minutes with WFC2. There are currently 34 players under contract with the first team so about a third of them have played at least some time with the reserve team. That’s a pretty decent percentage. We could just leave it at that and say that WFC2 was doing a terrific job of developing first team players but, as i’m sure you’re all aware, there are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. If we list those players by first team appearances then we start to see some trends emerge that make that number a bit less impressive.

2017 Appearances in all competitions by players who played at least some minutes with WFC2 during the three years of its existence:

Tim Parker: 36

Alphonso Davies: 33

Jake Nerwinski: 24

Nicolas Mezquida: 24

Erik Hurtado: 15

Kyle Greig: 5

Ben McKendry: 3

Spencer Richey: 3

Marco Bustos: 2

Cole Seiler: 2

Deybi Flores: 0

Sam Adekugbe: 0

Brett Levis: 0

A few things should be clear from this list. It starts promisingly enough; Parker, Davies, and Nerwinski all played significant roles in the first team. Of course none of them ever really played a full season in USL as they had broken into the first team within a year of playing for WFC2. Therefore it would be a bit of a stretch to say WFC2 was a major factor in their development, though there’s something to be said for these players getting a taste of pro soccer before throwing them in at the deep end. Hurtado and Mezquida only played for WFC2 as part of conditioning stints so they weren’t really prospects, though again there’s something to be said for giving second teams competitive matches to stay sharp. But after those two, it falls of a cliff. Even more concerning is the fact that the players who have played multiple seasons with WFC2 aren’t making the transition to the first team. If you were a player signed to WFC2 you’d better have shown what you could do in your first season, or odds were you’d never make it.

That being said, these results aren’t all that bad. WFC2 gave the first team three regular first team contributors. That is an average of one every season they were in business. As for the less successful players; a source of cheap domestic depth is nothing to sneeze at. We’d all prefer if WFC2 had cranked out young superstars who could contribute for a few years and then be sold on for millions but picking up useful players like Spencer Richey and Kyle Greig to fill out a roster is no tragedy.

In it’s short three year run, WFC2 was good at blooding prospects who were already close to MLS level and giving players who were out of favour with the first team a chance to get into competitive matches, but players who played more then one season there rarely made it to the first team. Of course it only ran for three seasons so it’s hard to make a fully informed judgement. One thing I will say for players like Bustos and McKendry is that WFC2 did give them a platform from which they could build their careers. Both players got looks with the national team during their time with WFC2 and it’s hard to see that happening if they were just sitting at the bottom of the roster, or cut loose to play for the reserves of some team in Europe. Competitive professional matches for young Canadians is good for Canadian soccer even if those players aren’t necessarily being utilized by the first team.