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Vancouver Whitecaps Development Report (June 2019)

The Golden Generation Takes an L, Some games are Played in Korea and is the U23 Squad Working?

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get into things we have to check in with Anthony Blondell. Remember, without his contract on the books the Whitecaps would have the lowest payroll in the league. He made a 6 minute cameo in a 2-1 loss to Deportes Temuco. Moving right along!

U23 Development Squad:

the U23s fell 3-1 to Daejeon Citizen and then played a game against Suwon Bluewings but Suwon requested there be no coverage of the game so we have no idea what happened in that one. You can find my match report and player grades for the Daejeon game below:

But since this U23 squad has been around for a while I think it’s worth asking

Is the U23 Development Squad Working?

Well, like pretty much everything to do with the Whitecaps this year, kind of but not as much as I’d like it to be. The development squad has mostly been used to give teenagers a chance to show what they can do against men. I think that has value. It takes time to adapt to playing against men, even if you’re a star youth player and the men aren’t the highest level of competition. Getting time against men early on helps you to make that adjustment faster when you make the jump to pro. So for guys like Kam Habibullah, Chituru Odunze and Damiano Pecile I think the development squad has plenty of value. But for guys who are already over 18 like Patrick Metcalfe and Georges Mukumbilwa I don’t think it serves them all that well. Between the ages of 18 and 23 getting regular game time is really important for development. Metcalfe has played 8 games and Mukumbilwa has played 6. That’s not enough, especially when the opposition aren’t always professionals. These are players who need to be playing regular professional football if they are going to reach their potential and right now the development team just isn’t providing that.

So here is what I propose for next season. Enter a team in either VMSL or the recently announced BC semi pro and figure out a way, any way, to bring back WFC2 in a professional league as well. The VMSL/BCSP team would be for players between the ages of 15 and 18 who would also play with their age group in the academy. This way they get experience playing against men in a competitive environment and, importantly, have regularly scheduled games. When the U23 team has come up against VMSL opposition it’s usually a close game so they’d be up against a challenging but not overwhelming level of competition. TFC does something similar by entering a team in League 1 Ontario.

The Whitecaps need to figure out a way to bring back WFC2 and there is no way around it. No traveling teams, no USL affiliates. They need a professional team that they have control of as a stepping stone to the first team. (Sid Seixeiro voice) So figure it out. If UBC doesn’t meet the stadium requirements then build a small stadium. If the CSA won’t sanction any more Canadian teams in American leagues then buy a franchise in the States. But figure it out because without WFC2 it’s really hard to be confident putting these players in. NYRB and FC Dallas play lots of young players, yes, but those players will have already played a number of professional games. How much more confident would Marc Dos Santos be in putting Theo Bair in if he already had 15 pro games under his belt?

Academy Playoffs:

It was the academy playoffs this month and all three Whitecaps age groups...were eliminated in the group stage. But you had to top your group to advance so it’s not like they played terribly. Let’s go over how they got on.

U15s:

The U15s opened the tournament with a 3-1 win over New York City F.C thanks to a Theo Afework hat trick.

They got beat 3-0. Moving on!

The U15s redeemed themselves in their final game beating Concorde Fire 4-1. Goals from Jay Herdman, Rohin Kapila, and a Theo Afework brace won the day.

U17s

I was very excited to see how the U17s would get on. In my opinion this is an incredible generation of players and how many of them end up as first team players will be a good measuring stick of how serious the Whitecaps are about turning their player development around. Looking at this lineup I would say (based admittedly on only seeing these players play a few times and their statistics) that Cambridge, Habibullah x2, Colyn, Brienza, Pecile, Facchineri and Odunze, at least should have the potential to make it to MLS. They opened the tournament with a 3-1 win against 11 time national champions Surf Soccer Club courtesy of goals from Massud Habibullah, Simon Colyn and substitute Owen Antoniuk.

The golden boys blew by Atlanta United 3-0. Just look at that scoreline: Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 Atlanta United. Please Whitecaps, figure out how to translate success at age level into first team results. Branden Cambridge had a brace and Massud Habibullah scored his second of the tournament.

The U17s came up against the other golden boys, F.C Dallas, with the winner of the game advancing to the next round and the loser going home. Things got off to a flying start with a Simon Colyn goal after 15 minutes. But then Dallas scored 4 unanswered goals and knocked out the golden generation.

U19s

The U19s opened with a 0-0 draw against Chargers soccer club who are apparently affiliated with AS Roma.

The u19s dropped a 2-1 game against the Michigan Wolves. Vasco Fry scored the goal.

The U19s fell behind early but in the 88th minute Evan Ince saved a penalty, clearing the way for Thomas Raimbault to score a late equalizer. A 0W-2D-1L record wasn’t good enough to advance.