Despite manager Carl Robinson’s tendency towards using rookies right off the bat, the club announced they would loan 2018 SuperDraft pick Justin Fiddes to USL affiliate Fresno FC until the end of the season.
Vancouver has the option to recall Fiddes during the summer transfer window but barring that sort of move the former University of Washington standout will spend the rest of the year with the Foxes with four other Whitecaps loanees.
A pacey left back that excited fans when he was drafted in January, Fiddes will be forced to compete with Scottish left back Alex Cooper, who has started six of the club’s eight matches this season. Fiddes has talent but will be a bit rusty, not having featured in a competitive match in awhile, and will have to hit the ground running in Fresno to impress a staff that has been hesitant to use Whitecaps players thus far. He also has played a bit of right back in the past and could beat out the Foxes’ starting right back, Zachary Ellis-Hayden, who has struggled since moving from the (now-defunct) Orlando City B (hat tip to our resident USL expert Caleb Wilkins for this bit of info).
I’m a bit hesitant about this move, as I really liked the move to bring Fiddes on board. While he is clearly third on the depth chart behind Marcel de Jong and Brett Levis, I feel like he will struggle equally for playing time in Fresno and wouldn’t benefit from time training with the first team. I hope I’m wrong and its possible the Caps will use the USL short-term recall policy to bring him back for Voyageurs Cup matches or depth should injury befall de Jong or Levis. Whitecaps players haven’t had a ton of success breaking into the Fresno XI but given Fiddes’ skill set, he has a chance to become a regular at right back and set himself up well to impress Robinson for the future.
While unlikely, this could also signal the organization’s desire to bring another left back in at some point, as Robbo looks a bit restless with an out-of-form de Jong and Levis’ relative inexperience. The transfer window slams shut today so any transaction would have to come quickly but this loan could signal further focus on the position this summer.