Caps soccer factory sends Straith to Germany - Vancouver Sun

Defender just the latest player from one of North America's leading producers of elite young talent

By Ian Walker

The Vancouver Whitecaps residency program can put another feather in its cap.

Defender Adam Straith has been transferred to German club FC Energie Cottbus for an undisclosed amount while striker Kyle Porter had his loan extended to play for the team's Under-23 side on Tuesday. Midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh and defender/midfielder Axel Levry were also loaned to Cottbus' U-23 side, while strikers Jerome Baker and Sahil Sandu accompany goalkeeper Julien Latendresse-Levesque on the German club's U-19 Junior Bundesliga team.

Straith, 18, originally joined Cottbus' U-19 side for the start of the 2008-09 season before being promoted. The Vancouver-born, Victoria raised player played 12 matches with the Whitecaps Premier Development League team before taking his game overseas. The 6-2, 190-pound centre back was one of seven Whitecaps to represent Canada at the U-20 World Championships in March, starting all three games.

Straith's transfer and recent rash of loaned players to European clubs further cement the residency program's reputation as the leader in North American soccer development.

"When we started the program we didn't know about Major League Soccer, but we knew we'd be around for an extended period and we figured let's have a hand in our own destiny," said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi, whose team will join MLS in 2011. "While the players leaving won't necessarily benefit us, on a national level it should help having them playing and training in Europe, which is our other core objective -- to grow the game in Canada."

Cottbus is a German professional soccer club based in the Lausitz-Spreewald region of Brandenburg. The men's first team currently plays in Germany's Second Bundesliga.

Vancouver's residency program is based out of the Whitecaps Training Centre at Simon Fraser University and uses the European club model of identification, development, and placement. The elite youth program -- for players from U-17 to U-19 --provides a development gateway to professional opportunities with the Whitecaps men's team and European clubs.

The results speak for themselves. Four Whitecaps residency players have seen playing time for the first team this season, including Dever Orgill, Ethan Gage, Randy Edwini-Bonsu and Philippe Davies. Three other players -- Dosanjh, Simon Thomas and Alex Semenets -- have trained regularly with the first team but haven't got into any games.

Residency program graduate Gage is currently on a trial with Eintracht Frankfurt's U-23 side after starting the season with the Whitecaps first team.

Earlier this season, the Vancouver's residency program finished runners-up to Sao Paulo FC of Brazil in the U-19 Super Group at Dallas Cup XXX.

iwalker@vancouversun.com

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