Whitecaps set for Prince George exhibition today - Prince George Citizen

Ted Clarke

Tyson Williams thought he’d seen the best B.C. has to offer when he played a few weeks ago in the Under-18 boys provincial championship.

As far as amateur boys soccer goes, that was as good as it gets for the 17-year-old midfielder and UNBC Northern Timberwolves recruit.

But on Saturday, on his Prince George Youth Soccer home field, Williams is about to find out what it’s like to play with the pros. Or more specifically, what it’s like to to try to stop what is arguably the best team in Canada.

Williams and the rest of the Prince George All-Stars will take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in an exhibition game at Glen Thompson Field. The Whitecaps are one of the top teams in United Soccer League First Division, currently tied with Puerto Rico for second place in the semi-pro North American league.

For Williams, it brings back memories of playing for Prince George FC in the two-game Major Indoor Soccer League exhibition against the Edmonton Drillers at CN Centre in April.

“I’m definitely excited,” said Williams. “It’s kind of like playing for the PGFC, that was pretty exciting in front of a home crowd. This is the Whitecaps and they’re a huge team -- they beat Toronto FC and they could be the best team in Canada.

“Not many guys my age get to play the Whitecaps. It will be a good experience just to rub elbows with the pros. It’s the chance of a lifetime.”

Williams and the Prince George Under-18s played in Burnaby at the provincial A championship two weeks ago, finishing with an 0-3-1 record.

“That was a great experience, the teams from down south are amazing,” Williams said. “We don’t get to play at that level very much, so it was different for us.”

The Whitecaps game was organized three weeks ago when an international friendly match arrangement fell through. PGYSA technical coach Sipho Sibiya knows Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi from when Sibiya played for the Whitecaps 10 years ago, and that led to the match being arranged on short notice. Sibiya expects the Whitecaps to give the fans a good show and he’s also hoping his players will make some inroads with the pros. He’s predicting a three-goal win for the Whitecaps.

“We want to make sure our youth kids will get looked at and get a chance to be exposed,” said Sibiya. “Even the players that are 21, 22 or 23, if they still have any aspirations, and if the Whitecaps see a good player, they aren’t going to turn that player down.

“It’s good for them to see the professionals and the speed of the game. If they can see that firsthand, the understanding is there as to what they need to do and where they need to be.”

Tickets for the game, 2 p.m. Saturday, will be available at the gate.
Ticket prices are $10 (adult), $7 (youth aged 13-18), $5 (kids 6-12). Kids aged five-and-under are admitted free.