This weekend, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (2W-1L-1D) host two matches in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL). On Friday evening, the young 'Caps host Tacoma Tide (0W-2L-2D) at 7 p.m. PT before battling British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC (1W-1L-2D) on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. PT. Both matches will be played on Bell Pitch at Empire Field.
Friday's game versus Tacoma is the first match-up of the season for the two sides, with Vancouver looking to extend their three-match unbeaten streak in the PDL. Sunday’s afternoon's contest with Highlanders FC is a re-match of the May 21 battle that resulted in a 2-2 draw on Vancouver Island.
The 'Caps will have three Major League Soccer squad members in their PDL side for this weekend’s games. Philippe Davies will continue his development in the midfield, while forward Long Tan could make his first appearance for the Residency squad this season.
Tan made his MLS debut as a late substitute in Whitecaps FC’s 1-0 defeat at Philadelphia Union on March 26. It was away from home that Tan made his first MLS start on May 14, as Whitecaps FC fell 1-0 at New England Revolution. In the club's inaugural MLS Reserve League match on March 22, Tan assisted on Bedri Gashi's consolation goal, as Whitecaps FC reserves fell to 2-1 at San Jose Earthquakes reserves.
Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre will make his return to PDL action this weekend after he missed the past two contests following United States U-20 international duty in Vichy, France. While youngsters Callum Irving and Sean Melvin went undefeated during Sylvestre’s absence, but the return of the 18-year-old will be a welcome boost for Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten.
Tacoma Tide enter this weekend’s match-up on a two-game losing streak after falling to Kitsap Pumas 6-1 before being blanked by Portland Timbers U-23's 2-0. Searching for their first win of the season, the Tide will be looking to shore up their defensive woes, one that has seen them give up a Northwest Division-worst 12 goals so far this term.
The strength of the Tide comes from their two forwards in Quinton Beasley and Christopher Sanders. The duo have supplied two goals and two assists separately, but will need help through secondary scoring from Tacoma's midfielders to increase their season average of one goal per match. Goalkeeper Jordan Jennings has featured in three of the club's four matches and will likely get the call against the 'Caps. The Tide are led by former Whitecaps FC and Canadian international midfielder Gerry Gray.
Victoria Highlanders FC enter Sunday's affair on a two-game unbeaten streak after back-to-back draws with BC arch-rivals Abbotsford Mariners and Whitecaps FC Residency. Victoria have depth and scoring options at all positions on the pitch after showing their ability to push defenders forward to score. Defender Marco Voegeli scored his first goal of the season against the Residency squad to highlight their aptitude.
Highlanders FC have also shown support for both of their goalkeepers in Trevor Stiles and Elliott Mitrou. The pair have each spotlighted in a pair of matches for Ian Bridge's side, with Stiles earning the draw against the ‘Caps only two weeks ago. With Stiles fueling the Highlanders FC two-game unbeaten streak, it would appear likely that he will get the start in East Vancouver on Sunday.
PDL CHAMPS NEXT…
Following this weekend's two-match home stand, Whitecaps FC Residency will play host to defending PDL champions Portland Timbers U-23's at Empire Field on Sunday, June 12, at 3 p.m. PT. The following week, the 'Caps host Washington Crossfire at an as-yet determined home venue on Sunday, June 19, at 4 p.m. PT.