The Whitecaps are headed to play FC Barcelona.
Yes, you read that right.
The Caps’ U-14 side is headed to Stockholm, Sweden to compete in the Lennart Johansson Academy Tournament, the club’s final competition before the summer break. It is there that the Whitecaps will square off against the Blaugranes, as well as FC Kia of Iran, FC Copenhagen of Denmark and hosts AIK of Sweden.
Head coach James Merriman hailed the opportunity as both a sign that top European teams are taking note of the Whitecaps burgeoning academy, as well as great experience for the young players.
“I think it shows what the organization is doing for young Canadian players, getting them more experienced in international competition,” Merriman said in a statement. “We’re working to bring that football culture to the younger ages so hopefully they see the level and what the standard is. That’s only going to benefit them and help them through their development throughout the Residency program if they continue along the pathway. I think at the younger ages, the more we can get these types of experiences the better.”
The Residency has not shied away from taking on European competitions in overseas tournaments. The U-15 side traveled to the Netherlands to participate in the prestigious Rotterdam Football Cup last month.
There they faced youth sides from across Europe, including academy sides from PSV Eindhoven and Chelsea FC. While they fell 2-1 to both sides and fell short of the quarterfinals, they managed to pick up a couple results against other European sides. The Caps were the only Canadian team to play in the tournament.
Do you see the tournament as a good opportunity for future Whitecaps to test their mettle against European competition? Or are the benefits of such trips overstates. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!