The Vancouver Whitecaps have signed midfielder Michael Baldisimo and striker Thelonius Bair to homegrown contracts.
Baldisimo previously played for WFC2 and had just broken through as a starter when the team folded. Baldisimo returned to the Residency this past year and continued to impress to earn a first team contract. Baldisimo is a player who i’ve praised highly in the past. He’s a central midfield player who was one of the few reasons to be excited for WFC2 games in their dying days. His range of passing is reminiscent of Pedro Morales and he’s a ton of fun to watch. The question of course is weather or not the ‘Caps can find professional minutes for Baldisimo. While he was very exciting for WFC2 it was also clear that he was still adapting to playing against men. He’s a year older and stronger but he’s still been playing against his age group for the past year so I imagine there will still be an adjustment period. He seems like the kind of player Fresno would bury so that’s probably not an option. Perhaps a loan to a CPL team is in his future? The Whitecaps specifically mentioned that Baldisimo is available for tomorrow’s Canadian Championship match against Montreal Impact so it seems there’s a good chance we’ll see him tomorrow.
I must admit that I haven’t seen Bair play but his 28 goals in 34 appearances for the residency in 2018 should be plenty to get anyone excited. Bair is 6’4 and 215 pounds which is quite big for an 18 year old. This naturally raises the question of if his goals have simply been the product of bullying undersized teenagers with his physicality. I haven’t seen him play so I can’t make a firm judgement one way or the other but there is some reason to be optimistic. During the Academy Playoffs the Whitecaps Residency tweeted out this video:
OH MY GOALS.— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 5, 2018
In their 4 playoff wins, @WFCResidency's U-19s averaged ⚽️⚽️⚽️ goals. #VWFC return to action Sunday at 5pm vs. LA Galaxy in the Academy Championship semis. Watch → https://t.co/iIWc3tZTAr pic.twitter.com/ax978GdThi
You will notice that Bair (#14) is involved in almost every single goal. It’s also clear that, while he’s certainly bigger and stronger than everyone else, a number of his goals are the result of intelligent runs and smart play. No doubt there will be a period of adjustment to playing against men, as there is with all young players, but Bair looks like a player who’s footballing intelligence will help him hit the ground running. He also scored six goals in the academy playoffs which shows he can perform under pressure.