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28 June 10:27 am


This week, Vancouver Whitecaps FC agreed to have youngster Caleb Clarke go on a two-week trial with FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt in Germany’s third-tier ‘3.Liga’.

If this trial is successful, Clarke - who turned 19 on Saturday - will likely be loaned to FC Rot-Weiss Erfurt for one year. This is a good move for Caleb and the ‘Caps, and is one of the many pathways for young players to make the grade at the highest level.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency has grown from 20 to over 80 players in the past year. Even now our U-16 and U-18 Residency teams are playing in Texas in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs after both teams finished first in their respective age groups. On Thursday, the U-18 team won their group and advanced among the final eight teams in the entire USSDA, while the U-16 team went undefeated but fell just short of advancing on goal differential.

The Residency program has received a lot of praise throughout North America for the job we are doing in developing young players. With Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie wanting a winning mentality throughout the club, it bodes well that both teams have had winning USSDA seasons, as they try to develop their game to make the jump to the next level.

The challenge Whitecaps FC currently have is when these players get to Caleb Clarke’s age. They are still young and in need of much playing time. So what are the options for the club and these players?

We have seen Russell Teibert sign an MLS contract last year and then start the memorable season-opener versus Toronto FC. Russell played a strong game and would probably have got a lot more minutes, if not for some niggling injuries. He has not hit the same heights so far this season, but he is knocking on the door and has to be ready to take his chance, when it comes.

Bryce Alderson is another Residency product that signed an MLS contract and is an exciting prospect. At 18 years of age, Bryce has huge potential.

Both Russell and Bryce are gaining valuable experience training with the first team and playing reserve team games, but like any young players in a club, Whitecaps FC would like to be in a position to offer them more games.

This is why we are seeing Caleb going on trial, in the hopes of securing a loan deal that will afford him valuable time on the pitch playing high-quality games. With this experience, he will come back to the ‘Caps a more complete player.

Another option for Whitecaps FC is to look to the lower divisions in North America and loan out young players, so they can develop their game, plus try and help a second or third-tier club be successful. Below MLS, there is the second-tier North American Soccer League (NASL) and the third-tier United Soccer Leagues Professional Division (USL PRO).

A third development pathway is through the university or college route. We have seen first-hand what players out of college can do, having selected striker Darren Mattocks out of Akron University in this year’s MLS SuperDraft.

If our Residency players are not ready to make the jump to MLS at 17 or 18 years of age, all is not lost. Young players can go to college to get an education and develop their game at a very competitive level.

If they develop their game enough, Whitecaps FC would have the option of bringing them back to the club, as they would be Homegrown players.

So whichever decision is made, there are many ways to make the grade.

08 June 10:20 am

So I chose my top 3 on Twitter last night, and I just wanted to give my insight.

Iker Casillas- Big game player. Has the experience and the athleticism to win any game. Already has a Euro and a World Cup to his credit. Has the fortunate pleasure of playing behind the world's best team.

Joe Hart- Playing in England is no easy task. Playing for Manchester City and leading them to the EPL title is even harder. He has proved he has got the mentality and pedigree to win big games. The only question is can he do the same for England. I think he can.

Manuel Neuer- a tough pick over Buffon and Cech, however he has a certain confidence about him that makes him seem older. Germans are very mechanical and methodic and Neuer fits this bill. The same questions come up with him as they do Hart. Can his International game live up to his club performances. Once again, I believe it can.

Others to watch: Buffon, and let's be honest, I'm writing this after the displays of Cech and Szczesny, so I don't have to include them now.

Enjoy!!

22 May 11:21 am

This year marks the fifth edition of the Amway Canadian Championship, as the professional club teams of our country battle for the Voyageurs Cup and a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League. It is a championship that has so far eluded Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and it has been taken away in some unpleasant and extraordinary circumstances.

Normally we’d look at the history of events in chronological order, but this tournament has developed a strange phenomenon, with rather incredible events occurring every second year.

EVEN YEARS, EVEN RESULTS
 
2008: The beginning
 
The tournament began in 2008 with a round robin format between Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC and Montreal Impact. The biggest highlight for the then-second division ‘Caps in the first year was beating Toronto FC 1-0 on their home field on a goal by Martin Nash. Vancouver then went on to draw Toronto FC 2-2 in the return match at Swangard Stadium, going undefeated against their MLS counterparts in their first two meetings. Two losses to Montreal, however, would prevent the ‘Caps from contending that year.  Montreal – who were also in the lower division at the time – would upset Toronto FC and become the first winners of the Voyageurs Cup, going on to a lengthy run in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League.
 
2010: Unbeaten, but winless as well
 
Before we get to the interesting years, let’s skip ahead to 2010. Compared to the other exciting years of this tournament, 2010 was rather dull. By the third year, Canadian fans were well versed in the unexpected turns that a six-match Amway Canadian Championship could deliver. For the first time, the six matches were scheduled on six consecutive Wednesday nights, with all six matches broadcast by Sportsnet for coast-to-coast television coverage.
 
The tournament itself would be a very frustrating campaign for Vancouver, as they went undefeated, but did so by drawing every match against Toronto and Montreal. Toronto on the other hand, got two victories against Montreal, enough to repeat as Canadian Champions.
 
ODD YEARS, ODD MOMENTS
 
While defeat in the Canadian Championship has been rather ordinary in even years (2008 and 2010), the circumstances in odd years have been just that …odd.
 
What happened in 2009 and 2011 you could never make up. All teams have to overcome tough losses; you can lose on player’s mistakes, referee’s mistakes, unlucky bounces, or just good play from the opposition. But the way the ‘Caps were denied the Voyageurs Cup in those two years could only make you shake your head and try to explain what really could not be explained.
 
2009: Heartbreak from tiebreak
 
The ‘Caps started the tournament off with their first ever loss to TFC at BMO Field, but they appeared to turn around their fortunes by the end of their run of games, earning a 2-0 home win against the Reds to all but secure their first Canadian Championship. The problem for the ‘Caps was that there was still one match to be played, a match in which they had no part.
 
If Toronto were to defeat Montreal in the final game they’d tie Vancouver on points, and the tiebreak was goal difference (and not head-to-head results, or goal difference amongst the tied teams only). This scenario had Vancouver winning the title unless TFC could beat Montreal Impact by at least four goals. However, the Impact had nothing to play for. The result was an exceptionally odd match. One team was fighting tooth and nail to get a big win, while the other team couldn’t be bothered to stop them.
 
Things looked like they might go the ‘Caps way after the Impact's Tony Donatelli (a former Whitecaps player) made it 1-0 at Stade Saputo on a penalty kick. The cushion was now five goals for Whitecaps FC. But then, just before the half-hour mark, Dwayne De Rosario scored his first of three goals to kick off an incredible finale. Toronto FC scored six goals in all, including the fifth by Chad Barrett that turned out to be the competition winner.
 
Toronto FC were crowned Canadian champions, much to the disappointment of the stunned runners-up Vancouver Whitecaps FC – who were actually in attendance to witness the madness, as they faced Montreal in a match that weekend. It’s hard to imagine a more agonizing way to lose a title. But then again …
 
2011: Are you kidding me?
 
The 2011 Amway Canadian Championship featured a fourth team and a new format, with the switch from the familiar round robin group to a knockout style semifinal and final series.
 
The new team on the block was FC Edmonton in the second division – where the ‘Caps used to play. The Albertan side were matched up against Toronto FC in one of two opening series; the other opening series featured Vancouver Whitecaps FC against Montreal Impact.
 
Vancouver and Toronto would both prevail in their semifinal series to advance to the finals, where they would meet in a two-legged championship. Finally, a format where the ‘Caps could truly control their own destiny from start to finish…or so we thought.
 
The first match was in Vancouver and ended in a 1-1 draw, with Eric Hassli scoring for Vancouver. The second leg was played in Toronto a week later.
 
Vancouver came out strong and scored in the first half on a Hassli goal. The game was being dominated by the ‘Caps and with less than 30 minutes to go, they were again on the verge of claiming the Voyageurs Cup for the first time.  Destiny, apparently, dictated otherwise.
 
With heavy rain flooding the field and lightning sparking down towards the stands, the conditions were deemed too dangerous to play and the match was abandoned, with the rules stating that it had to be rescheduled and replayed in its entirety – nullifying the ‘Caps 1-0 advantage. Everyone on the side of Whitecaps FC were of course outraged with the decision, while TFC were all too happy to comply. Fate had dealt the ‘Caps another cruel blow.
 
Five weeks later the match was replayed from scratch. Vancouver got off to a good start with a brilliant free kick goal from Camilo, but TFC eventually rallied for a 2-1 victory, once again denying Whitecaps FC the glory they seemed to deserve.
 
It makes you wonder what we have to do to get our hands on that Voyageurs Cup. But hey, at least it’s an even year.
 
Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn out odd.
08 May 11:18 am

No castle was ever built over night, nor did any become famous for simply being built. Fortresses earn their acclaim because of the battles that they have withstood, with it's occupants protecting their hallowed grounds time after time, always standing tall in the end.

BC Place is our fortress.
 
While it's the fans who cheer on the players throughout the match, the respect is mutual. Nothing drives the men on the field more than a boisterous crowd, and in turn, 'Caps players always return the favour and give an ovation to their proud supporters at the end of each match. Together, we're well on our way to achieving our goal of making BC Place one of the toughest places to play in MLS.
 
Saturday was a perfect example. San Jose were the hottest team in the league and looked like they'd escape with a draw, but the fans at BC Place weren't interested in a draw, so they pushed the team to keep going, and the 'Caps gave everything they had right until the end to snag one of the most exciting wins we've had since we joined MLS.
 
You are the turbo button, the NOS, the shot of adrenaline, the second wind. You are the difference.
 
So here's to you 'Caps fans. Keep up the great work, and see you on Wednesday.
 
 
Tickets are still available for Wednesday's crucial second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinals, as Vancouver Whitecaps FC play host to FC Edmonton at BC Place. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. PT. To purchase tickets, visit ticketsmaster.ca/whitecapsfc.
30 March 10:43 am

With the 'Caps playing Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Saturday (1 p.m. PT live on Sportsnet Pacific and TEAM 1410 radio), Jordan Harvey, Brad Knighton and Sebastien Le Toux will be returning to the 'City of Brotherly Love' to face their former team for the first time. Carl checked in with the trio to talk all things Philly, from playing with the Union, to cheese steaks, to booing Santa Claus.

Take it away Carl.
 
 
Whitecaps FC MLS 2012 season tickets start at just $295. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, suites, and loge boxes, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com.
20 March 10:46 am

After a weekend of travel - and the team's first road win - the 'Caps worked out at Steve Nash Fitness World. Carl Valentine was on hand to find out who the fittest guys are on the team.

Take it away Carl.
 
 
Whitecaps FC (MLS RS 2W-0L-0D) will look to continue their positive form this Saturday night, March 24, when they return to Bell Pitch on BC Place against D.C. United (MLS RS 0W-2L-0D) at 7 p.m. PT. Tickets for Saturday’s match start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).
 
Whitecaps FC MLS 2012 season tickets start at just $329 and include a bonus ticket. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, suites, and loge boxes, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com.
 
07 February 10:48 am

 

First off, I'd like to wish a very Happy Birthday to ‘Caps co-owner Steve Nash. If I could get you anything for your birthday Steve, I'd start with a win for your Phoenix Suns against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight, of course, but followed closely by a successful Round 2 for our 'Caps, and then a UEFA Champions League spot for your other favourite club, Tottenham Hotspur FC. 
 
Speaking of 'Caps co-owners, Jeff Mallett flew in for the match against Seattle Sounders FC on Monday, and I had a chance to talk to him for my TWO ONE. Check out the video for his thoughts on the coaching staff, the players, the Residency program, and how excited he is about the rapidly approaching Major League Soccer season.
 
 
Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $329, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
03 February 10:54 am

 

This is the third straight year that Vancouver Whitecaps FC have come to Casa Grande, Arizona, for preseason. So let’s take a tour to see why the 'Caps, and so many other Major League Soccer teams, keep coming back to this beautiful facility.
 
It’s not just the soccer fields that are important to the teams. Casa Grande offers spacious changing rooms and a large area for teams to do their gym work. We got to talk to the chef that prepares their food, and some of the maids that have to clean up the rooms each day.
 
It is preseason, and the players need to concentrate on the job at hand, but it's also a time for the team to relax at times and bond, and this facility allows the 'Caps to do just that.
 
 
Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $329, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
02 February 10:57 am

CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA – Last night, I had the pleasure of picking up our latest signing, French striker Sebastien Le Toux, at the Sky Harbor Airport with my main man, videographer Zac Ratcliffe.

 

Upon meeting our new striker, we got his thoughts on coming to the ‘Caps and playing in the Pacific Northwest for the second time in his career (he previously played in Seattle). We had an hour long journey back to our training facility, so there was plenty of time to chat. It was clear from the conversation I had with Mr. Le Toux that we had not only signed an elite attacking player, but a gentleman and a very passionate player that was excited to bring his talents to the ‘Caps.
 
We arrived back in Casa Grande around dinner time, but in a further testament to his excitement and passion, Sebastien passed on the meal because he was keen to have a medical that very night, so that he could train with his new teammates in the morning.
 
Indeed, he will be an easy guy to cheer for.
 
Whitecaps FC 2012 Major League Soccer season tickets start at $329, plus applicable tax and a $10 processing fee per order. To secure a seat and for additional information about Whitecaps FC MLS season tickets, including loge seats and suites, call 604.669.9283 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
31 January 11:07 am

Last week, Whitecaps FC kicked off their 2012 preseason camp and included in the squad are three young Canadians from the club's Residency program in Caleb Clarke, Ben Fisk, and Callum Irving. This is in addition to program grads Russell Teibert and Bryce Alderson.

It was also confirmed prior to the start of training camp that Philippe Davies has left the club. Now, don’t for a second think that everyone at the club doesn’t wish the best for Phil – he’s a great person and a bright young soccer player who has a strong future to look forward to in the game of soccer – but I know from experience that it’s about being in the right situation at the right time.

My career took off when I came to Vancouver to play for Whitecaps FC from Oldham Athletic in England. I was fortunate enough to come into the right situation. The ‘Caps had a great team – they made the playoffs the year before – but I was able to provide something that the team may have been missing at the time. Phil, meanwhile, developed through our Residency program. Whitecaps FC invested in his soccer career and have been very proud to do so, and I’m certain he’ll tell you that he benefitted from being a part of the Residency program. Unfortunately, Phil came into a tougher situation once he graduated through the program, and he may have had more chances in the first team if the results had been kinder on the field last season. It’s nothing personal, and of course it’s disappointing to lose a young Canadian, but sometimes as a player you need to move to a situation that may be a better fit for you at the time. In my opinion, Phil has the talent to make it as a professional, all he needs is a fresh start to jumpstart his career.
 
With that being said, our goal as a club remains – as it always has – to develop Canadian talent. That’s why our owners have invested millions of dollars into our elite development programs. They wouldn’t do so if they didn’t care about the welfare and future of Canadian soccer, because as you know, money doesn’t grow on trees.
 
The Residency program is still young in itself. With how far we’ve already come in recent years, sometimes people lose grasp of how much Canadian soccer development still has to grow. But who says we haven’t already had some success? Teibert started several MLS matches last season with great success and Alderson is coming into his own now that he's making the jump to the first team. Furthermore, the three Residency youngsters in camp are making quite an impression on the Whitecaps FC coaching staff.
 
Richmond, BC, native Clarke is a striker that has shown a lot of maturity; he makes intelligent runs, holds the ball up well, and is very cool in front of goal.
 
Vancouver, BC, native Fisk is what I call an’ impact player’ – not the Montreal kind though, Ben is a 'Caps man through and through. He is very comfortable on the ball with very quick feet and he loves to take players on, and he also has a keen eye for a good pass.
 
Caleb and Ben have both recently been called up to the Canadian U-20 national team camp. Each of them impressed during Martin Rennie’s mini-camp in November and were rewarded by having the chance to train with the first team and again show their stuff in preseason.
 
The third player is Vancouverite Callum Irving, a goalkeeper that has been called up to the Canadian U-18 national team and is highly rated by Whitecaps FC goalkeeper coach Marius Rovde. He will have a great opportunity to gain some valuable experience training with the first team, especially having veteran Joe Cannon as a mentor.
 
I am excited by the future of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, and that’s largely because of our Residency program. Players such as Alderson, Clarke, Fisk, Irving, and Teibert are the next batch of youngsters knocking on the door, looking to make their mark at both club and country. And there are a number of other players not that far behind.
 
With young talent like this coming through, who says the future is not bright – for Whitecaps FC, and for each and every one of our Canadian players.
 
Since 1979, Carl Valentine has been an integral part of the soccer community in Vancouver. A club legend, Carl was a key player for the Whitecaps FC team that won the 1979 North American Soccer League (NASL) Soccer Bowl, as well as the 86ers squads that won four Canadian Soccer League (CSL) titles. Now, Carl represents the 'Caps as club ambassador. Make sure to check back regularly for his columns and videos as part of 'The TWO ONE'.