Vancouver's roster: A look at the 16 on the bubble
Vancouver Whitecaps FC have officially signed 16 players as of Friday, but many others remain in training camp with the team.
Preseason hasn’t been the first chance to evaluate the majority of these players. Ten of the 16 trialists (players marked with an *) spent at least a portion of last season with either the Whitecaps FC D2 team or their Residency team.
Fourteen of the 16 players listed are 23 years of age or younger. Included in this group are two MLS SuperDraft picks, one Supplemental Draft pick, four potential Home Grown players and nine internationals.
Here’s a look at each unsigned player that remains in camp:
*Brian Sylvestre (GK) – An 18-year-old goalkeeper with a ton of upside. The 6-foot-5 Sylvestre has spent time with the US U-20 national team and is expected to be signed as a Home Grown player after spending the past year in the Whitecaps’ residency program.
*Mouloud Akloul (D) – A smooth center back who can control the tempo of the game from the back line. The team signed Akloul to their D2 team last year with the intention of having him start for their MLS squad, but the 27-year-old Frenchman has been slow to recover from a broken ankle that he suffered in April. If he’s healthy, Akloul likely pairs with DeMerit at center back.
Bilal Duckett (D) – The 37th overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, Duckett is a lanky defender with great pace who can play either right back or center back, With only two center backs currently signed, Duckett has a good shot to make the squad.
Ryan O’Leary (D) –The 23-year-old Scotland native also holds a Canadian passport though his mother, meaning that he wouldn’t take up an international roster spot. However, he’s had to sit out the majority of the preseason with injury.
Michael Boxall (D) – The first player taken off the board in this year’s Supplemental Draft, Boxall (right) is a big body at center back. The 22-year-old has experience playing for the New Zealand national team and could provide depth on the backline, but the fact that he would count as an international player hurts his stock.
*Russell Teibert (MF) –The 18-year-old impressed during preseason with his speed and tenacity, taking on defenders and battling for every ball. The 5-foot-7 midfielder will likely be signed as a Home Grown player and should compete for playing time on the left wing.
Jeb Brovsky (MF) –The 22-year-old will likely play as a defensive midfielder, but he can also cover at center back if need be. He’s made an impression with his smart play and is a good bet to make the team as a reliable player off the bench.
Blake Wagner (MF) – The former FC Dallas winger showed flashes of brilliance with the D2 ‘Caps last season, and the coaches are likely looking for more consistency.
*Alexandre Morfaw (MF) – The team has had high hopes for this former Cameroon youth international, but nagging injuries have hardly allowed the coaches to get a glimpse of the 23-year-old midfielder’s true potential.
*Bedri Gashi (MF) – A teammate of Mobulu’s at Swiss club FC Lausanne-Sport, Gashi remains a bit of an unknown. The Kosovo-born midfielder spent the majority of offseason training camp rehabbing from injury and missed the team’s first preseason trip to Arizona due to personal reasons.
*Davide Chiumiento (MF/F) – A product of the Juventus FC youth system, Chiumiento (pictured above) learned from the likes of Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero and Uruguayan maestro Paolo Montero. The Swiss magician’s signing is a mere formality, and he’ll likely find a place in the starting eleven as a withdrawn striker.
Long Tan (F) – An athletic forward that has earned the nickname “Dragon” for his tenacious play. Coaches are very high on the Chinese youngster, so it would be no surprise if he’s on the roster come March 19.
*Cornelius Stewart (MF/F) – The 21-year-old native of St. Vincent and the Grenadines enjoyed a breakout season with the D2 Whitecaps last year. Stewart can play as a winger or as a striker and is a tenacious ball hawk who creates his own scoring chances, but his finishing still needs to improve.
*Ridge Mobulu (MF/F) – A 19-year-old winger/striker from Switzerland with terrific dribbling abilities, Mobulu looked to be a rising prospect for the ‘Caps down the stretch of their D2 season. However, injuries and personal issues have kept him out of a significant portion of training the past several months and it’s unclear what his status is heading into the season.
*Kyle Porter (MF/F) – He came through the residency program and could be signed as a Home Grown player, but his status is uncertain after he left camp to go on trial with the rival Montreal Impact.
Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo (F) –The 5-foot-7 Brazilian attacker was a prolific goal-scorer for Maltese club Qormi, but he failed to score a goal in seven matches for Korean club Gyeongnam and has yet to fully prove he can cut it in MLS. Thordarson has been somewhat happy with his play so far but is looking for him to gain fitness before making a final decision.