Addlery looking forward to new season

With several weeks remaining before the new season begins, Vancouver Whitecaps striker Nicholas Addlery has enjoyed the first week with his new club.

The 26-year-old is one of several new faces that Whitecaps fans can expect to see in 2008, having signed a one-year contract – plus an option – with Vancouver on January 24. Addlery’s arrival on Canada’s west coast comes after he spent the 2007 season with Major League Soccer giants DC United. The striker says things have begun brightly. “I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk with my teammates as yet, but everybody has been very friendly,” the Jamaican told whitecapsfc.com. “I haven’t had a chance to practice a lot since I came here. I mostly did some running on Wednesday, while on Tuesday and Thursday, we had strength and conditioning sessions.”

Had it not been for the demise of the Virginia Beach Mariners before the start of the 2007 USL First Division season, then Whitecaps fans may have seen the fleet-footed Addlery take on Vancouver last season. With new head coach Teitur Thordarson keen on playing an attacking brand of soccer, the striker hopes to fulfill the plans of the club’s Icelandic tactician. “As an attacker, I like to think of myself as an being aggressive but patient,” Addlery said. “I like to run at defenders whenever I get the opportunity and I like striking for goal.”

Though he has spent just a few days with the men’s team coaching staff, Addlery has been impressed by the personable approach of head coach Thordarson and his assistant Todd Wawrousek. “Just the way Teitur greets every player every morning is something that I’ve never seen before,” Addlery said. “It doesn’t matter what type of session it is, or if it’s a veteran or rookie player, he greets all the players every morning. That was very impressive because relationships are very important to me. Teitur was one of the main reasons why I came here. He used to play in France and was a prolific goalscorer as a player, so even at the age of 26, I feel I can learn a lot from him. I’m just like a sponge whenever I’m around him, as I’m just soaking up as much information as possible.”

Raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Addlery had a successful college career with NCAA Division II school California University of Pennsylvania between 1999 and 2002. He then became the first Jamaican player to play in the Trinidad & Tobago Pro League after stints with South Starworld Strikers in 2003 and San Juan Jabloteh in 2005. The striker even had a short spell in Vietnam in early 2006 before finding way back to North America with DC United.

Having had a taste of MLS soccer last season, Addlery believes there is little difference between North America’s top-flight league and USL-1. “A league can’t really define a team,” Addlery said. “You put any team head-to-head with another on any given day, and either side is capable of winning. People say the MLS is a better league, but USL-1 has a lot of great technical players that could play and perform at the MLS level, yet choose to remain in USL-1. I think the Whitecaps are right up there with MLS teams and I believe they can play in that league.”

The goalscorer is not only looking forward to the league campaign, but the Whitecaps quest to be crowned the top professional club in Canada when it meets MLS side Toronto FC and USL-1 rivals Montreal Impact in a soon-to-be-announced competition later this year. Addlery feels the incentive of qualifying for the newly-formed CONCACAF Champions League will make for an exciting competition amongst Canada’s three pro clubs. “I’m definitely looking forward to playing Toronto FC because there are a couple of Jamaicans on that team that I know pretty well,” he revealed. “When you consider the magnitude of the CONCACAF Champions League and the type of teams that will be in it, then there’s definitely going to be some rivalry here in Canada. The Champions League is going to be big because everybody wants to play the upper echelon teams in the region, and as players, you always want to play and win against the best teams.”

Addlery’s career has seen him represent his native Jamaica at U-20 international and U-23 Olympic levels. Though it would be an honour for him to receive a call-up to his country’s senior squad, the forward is more concerned with having a highly-successful season in Vancouver. “Right now, my focus is on the Whitecaps by getting ready for the season and bringing a championship here in the autumn,” he said. “If a call-up from Jamaica comes along then it happens, but as a professional, my focus is here right now.”

Though the club’s preparations are in the early stages, Addlery thinks Whitecaps fans will be excited by what they see from the men’s team this year. “I always look forward to a new season with a high level of optimism,” he said. “I think we’ll definitely be there come next October. Our coach likes to play attacking soccer, so fans in Vancouver should come out because they will enjoy watching us this year.”

The Whitecaps open the 2008 regular season at Swangard Stadium with an all-Canadian tilt versus the Montreal Impact on April 12. Season tickets are on sale now and start at $199. All season tickets include a bonus ticket to this year’s international friendly. For more information, CLICK HERE or call the Whitecaps office at 604.669.WAVE (9283).