By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Two games into the new USL First Division season, Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Vicente Arze is quickly learning the challenges of the professional game.
As one of several new faces to join Teitur Thordarson's squad in 2008, the 22-year-old Bolivian joins defender Luca Bellisomo and twins brothers Mason and Nick Webb in being first-year professional players with the men's team. The former Mercer University star admits playing for the Whitecaps is a far different environment to what he has previously experienced. "In college, you do not have as many good players as we have in this league," Arze told whitecapsfc.com. "In USL-1, you are not allowed as much space and time with the ball, as you are always under pressure. I also found the weather here in Vancouver to be very different from the state of Georgia or Bolivia, where it is usually very hot. Until I arrived here, I had never played in snow and on turf, so that proved to be an initial challenge for me."
With a win and a defeat to begin the 2008 campaign, the winger seems to be settling in well with the squad and enjoying Thordarson's coaching philosophy to play an attacking style. "When I came to Vancouver, it was good to find that we have a good team, with good players and good people, as well as a very good coach," he said. "The South American style of play involves a lot of attacking, so when I came here, I was pleasantly surprised that Teitur wanted to play in an attacking style. I've been learning a lot over the past month and I feel my game is going to improve."
Though things may have not gone to plan when the Whitecaps lost 1-0 at home to Minnesota Thunder on April 26, Arze feels the defeat may turn out to be a positive thing for the side. "Though we lost to Minnesota, it may be good for us this early in the season, as we can make changes and avoid the mistakes we made before our next game against Rochester," he said. "The two weeks after the Montreal win may have taken us out of rhythm a little bit, especially being that our first game of the season was against Montreal and that had everyone motivated to do well."
The relatively low-key start to the season will soon change, as the Whitecaps play a total of eight games during the month of May. This includes an international friendly against Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium on Tuesday, May 13. "I cannot wait for the game because we don’t just get the chance to play against David Beckham, but also other talented players like Landon Donovan," Arze said of the Galaxy friendly. "I'm really pumped for that game."
The youngster knows the busier spells are on the horizon for Thordarson's squad, but he remains confident that the quality in the side will see them reach their goals of a USL-1 championship title and success in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying tournament. "We have plenty of depth in our team," he said. "We have people that can come off the substitutes' bench and play as well as those that start games. It's going to be a tough stretch, but I think we are going to get through it."
As for being a novice citizen of the Lower Mainland, Arze is keen to explore what Greater Vancouver has to offer as a city. "I've been living on my own since I was 16 and I'm always keen to experience new places like here in Vancouver," he said.