Whitecaps FC begin inaugural season in US Soccer Development Academy league this weekend

U-18 & U-16 doubleheader at Starfire

The start of the 2011-12 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) league season begins on Saturday, as Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency usher in a new era in Canadian soccer youth development.

The inaugural matches see the 'Caps U-16 and U-18 Residency squads make their USSDA debut against Real Salt Lake AZ at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. The U-18 squads kick things off at 12:30 p.m. PT, followed by the U-16 teams playing one another at 3 p.m. PT.

THE USSDA LEAGUE

Playing out of the West Conference Northwest Division, Richard Grootscholten’s side joins an eight team group in a league composed of ten geographically based divisions. Each team will play home and away matches against each other team in their division during the nine-month season, plus games against non-division opponents. The top 32 teams in each age group advance to the playoffs, where they then compete for one of eight spots in the Academy Finals Week at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC RESIDENCY

As the first and only Canadian club accepted into the league, this will be the first-ever matches for Whitecaps FC in the USSDA – America’s premier youth academy system. This will also be the first-ever competitive match for the U-16 Residency team, which was recently implemented along with a junior and senior U-14 Residency squad as part of an overall expansion to the Whitecaps FC Residency program.

REAL SALT LAKE ARIZONA ACADEMY

Based at the campus of Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona, RSL-AZ Academy is the crown jewel of Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake’s youth system. The academy has seen 11 players receive scholarships to play National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college soccer this fall, ranking them second of the 78 US Soccer Development Academies nationwide.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency has become a symbol of the club’s dedication and investment in player development, with the program aimed to increase professional opportunities for Canadian players. This has included Residency graduates such as two-time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year Russell Teibert, as well as standouts Philippe Davies and Bryan Sylvestre, who have each earned a spot on Whitecaps FC in MLS. In 2011 alone, Whitecaps FC have placed 13 players on Canadian Soccer Association U-17 and U-20 national teams.

Successful Residency graduates enter the first team development environment that includes training with the Major League Soccer (MLS) squad and competitive opportunities in both United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) and MLS Reserve League games.

Find out more about the Whitecaps FC Residency program at whitecapsfc.com/residency.