Keepers of the goal


By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com

In a men's team squad that has seen plenty of change during the off-season, there remains a level of continuity in the goalkeeping department with Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

In the first of our four-part preview series to the 2010 Whitecaps men's team, whitecapsfc.com takes a closer look at the three keepers that form Vancouver's last line of defence for this year's USSF D-2 Pro League season and the third edition of the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

'Growth' may be the best word to describe Jay Nolly's first two seasons with the Whitecaps. After struggling to become a regular with Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs Real Salt Lake and D.C. United, the 28-year-old has gone on to play a big part in Vancouver's United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) championship success of 2008, and the Blue and White's progress to last year's USL-1 Championship Series against Canadian rivals Montreal Impact. In fact, the Littleton, Colorado, native earned the club's Most Valuable Player award for 2009 after appearing in every minute (3,600) of the men's team's 40 matches in USL-1 and the Nutrilite Canadian Championship.

For Whitecaps goalkeeping coach Mike Salmon, Nolly's development puts the shot-stopper in a good position to make a return to MLS in the near future. "Jay has a lot of experience at this level, and has been improving season by season," Salmon told whitecapsfc.com. "Jay has got a great temperament. He doesn't get too excited or too disappointed in games, and his reading of the game is improving all the time. Jay is an honest person and wants to play at the highest level, which is a great recipe for success."

The Whitecaps passion for developing young players has resulted in the growth of promising Canadian talent like Simon Thomas. An inaugural member of the Whitecaps Residency program, the Victoria, BC, native has made major strides in his game since joining the club in the summer of 2007. Salmon himself has been impressed by Thomas' commitment and work-rate to be one of Teitur Thordarson's goalkeeping options this year. "We've got a real prospect in Simon," Salmon said of the 19-year-old. "He has worked really hard to get to where he is at, and deserves to be one of our goalkeeping options for this season. The encouraging thing about Simon is that he is a quick learner. If he keeps developing as he has been doing, then he will have a career in the game."

The 'Caps goalkeeping options have also led to the addition of Canadian youngster Dan Pelc. The 23-year-old signed a one-year contract with the club last week after impressing Salmon and the coaching staff during off-season training. A native of Hamilton, Ontario, the 2009 Canadian Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year fills the void left by the departure of Brazilian keeper Diego Aparecido Ferreira Oliveira at the end of last season. "We saw something in Dan from his physical abilities, even though he is quite inexperienced in terms of the level of soccer that he has been playing at," Salmon said. "He has good hands and great length of extension when diving for the ball, but what I want him to learn is to anticipate situations better, so he's in better positions to make saves. If he is able to read the game at a higher level, then Dan has all the attributes of playing for the club."

In the next edition of our 2010 men's team preview, we look at the players that will patrol the club's defensive backline.