Good Monday morning Caps fans. Hope you all had a relaxing weekend and, if you celebrated one of the respective religious holidays. a joyous one.
The Whitecaps have officially embarked south of the border and it is unclear when they will return to BC Place, although the writers' room is in some degree of unanimity that it will be sometime in 2021. The ongoing spike of cases in Canada, plus the spread of variants in the U.S., means the outlook remains stormy for the moment but hopefully widespread vaccination will mean we have the team back in British Columbia before season’s end.
Good news appears to be on the horizon, with GlassCity reporting on Twitter something many of us have hoped for and predicted for some time: a first-team contract for Kamron Habibullah.
According to a source Kam Habibullah has agreed to a Homegrown contract with the Whitecaps. I’m told he chose the MLS deal over European options that would’ve been available to him when he turns 18 in October. #VWFC #CANMNT— (@GlassCityFC) April 1, 2021
If you’re a Caps’ fan (and if you’re reading this, you almost certainly are), then I don’t need to tell you why this is exciting. Habibullah, the soon-to-be 18-year-old left winger, is widely regarded as the best Vancouver prospect post-Davies. He has excelled both for the Whitecaps’ academy and for the Canadian U-17 national team, helping them qualify for the World Cup in 2019 after a blistering performance during the qualifiers.
Highlights are here if you (like me) have work duties which often interfere with your hopes and dreams of being better informed on the affairs of the Caps’ youth teams.
Now, youth highlights are obviously more art than science but these are clearly impressive, as they include the U-17 World Cup where Habibullah is showing off his pace, technical skill and pinpoint finishing abilities against some of the best young talents in the world. Canada, it should be noted, got absolutely plastered in the tournament but there were still some extremely sharp moments from Habibullah.
The fact that many youth products have gotten a chance to impress during first team practices this spring has been one positive to take from a training camp ravaged by international call-ups. It isn’t like Habibullah wouldn’t have gotten a first team contract anyway but it’ll mean he is ready to hit the ground running when the time (officially) comes.
And it is a step in the right direction for some of the other youth prospects — many of whom have less clear cut futures — to make an impression on Marc dos Santos and the coaching staff. The team has gotten away from playing youngsters and, in normal circumstances, guys like Habibullah, Damiano Pecile and Gianfranco Facchineri will likely not be in line for a ton of playing time this season.
But it is still unclear how the Gold Cup and international duty, plus the usual spate of injuries, will leave the roster in the dog days of summer. Working guys back in at the beginning of the season won’t be a piece of cake either and some summer acquisitions are not even in Canada yet.
This isn’t to say that any of these top-tier prospects will be in line for bountiful playing time (although I think we all would like them to get a run out). But the potential is there for someone to come in and make a Michael Baldisimo-like impression (yeah, I know Baldi is older but let me dream).
But, at the end of the day, it is nice to see the academy, which has gone dry for reasons we get into in an upcoming season preview roundtable, produce another first-team talent — and one who has immense potential to boot. Let’s hope the reports are true, the ink dries on the contract and it is publicly announced lickety-split.
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