By Steve Ewen
New Vancouver's Whitecap Alex Elliott used to ride a bus from Vancouver to his family's home in Summerland in the wee hours every Sunday after training under one of the club's former stars.
Elliott, 23, was inked by the USSF D-2 franchise on Wednesday, pending his international transfer certificate. When he was 14, he used to work out under the tutelage of Derek Possee in the Lower Mainland every weekend as part of the B.C. Soccer Association's national high-performance training centre program. Practices routinely ended at 9 p.m. on Sundays, leaving just the midnight bus for Elliott to take home. It was generally a five-hour ride, and he'd get as much sleep as he could at home before going to school.
"Those bus trips paid off," said Elliott, who later moved to Vancouver to enhance his soccer career and was a Province Head of the Class winner after graduating from Magee in 2005. "It shows you that hard work can get you where you want to be."
The time with Possee's group played a role in stints for Elliott internationally with Canadian Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 teams. And it helped him land a scholarship at the University of Portland, where the 5-foot-9, 155-pound outside midfielder played for three years before three seasons in Germany, the last two with FSV Mainz 05.
Before heading to Portland, he played briefly for the Whitecaps Reserves, and he's kept in touch with Whitecaps officials, including team president Bob Lenarduzzi.
Elliott played down the idea that the remainder of this season is largely a tryout for the next year, when the Whitecaps enter MLS.
"For me, signing here is about the next five months," Elliott, who's joining a squad that's currently 5-2-5 and sitting atop its NASL Conference in USSF D-2.
"I want to focus on helping this team achieve its goals for this season. We have to focus on the current season."