On Tuesday, I wrote about two players of the past who excelled for both Whitecaps FC and for Canada – Bobby Lenarduzzi and Andrea Neil. Today I would like to look at two very exciting players who could step into Bobby and Andrea’s footsteps. Those are certainly big shoes to fill, but these players have the potential to rise to the very top for club and country.
Russell grew up with two passions, one of them was soccer, but like many kids in Canada, the other was hockey. Between 1998 and 2006, he played AAA minor hockey in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Luckily for the ‘Caps and Canada, though, soccer won the day.
Russell is an attack-minded player who has a wonderful touch and is a great crosser of the ball. He has played mostly on the left side of midfield for club and country and is very dangerous on set plays. He plays with the calmness of an older player, and already possesses a great awareness on the field.
VIDEO - Russell Teibert prepares for match versus Toronto FC at BMO Field
Still only 18-years-of age, Russell has already made his Major League Soccer debut for Whitecaps FC. He first joined the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency program on September 10, 2008, going on tours to Japan and Germany while also representing the ‘Caps in the prestigious Dallas Cup. In 2010, at 17 years and 221 days, Teibert became the 10th youngest player to appear in a competitive match for Whitecaps FC, as he played in a 2-2 away draw versus Carolina Railhawks on July 31. This past year, Russell made his MLS debut as he started in the inaugural MLS match for Whitecaps FC, as the ‘Caps defeated his former club Toronto FC 4-2.
A rising star for his country, Russell twice won U-17 Canadian Player of the Year and has represented Canada at the U-17 and U-20 levels. In 2009, Teibert captained Canada at the 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. He was also recently called up for a U-23 camp, and is being watched closely by senior men’s national team head coach Stephen Hart. It’s only going to get better for this young player as he is showing a great willingness to learn and get better.
Jenna returned for her second season with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC women’s team this year and she is looking to make a big impact in the W-league after graduating from the Whitecaps FC prospects program.
Last year, Jenna starred for the Whitecaps FC prospects team that won the Premier Women's regular season championship and league cup titles in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL). Jenna also led the PCSL in scoring.
Jenna is very confident on the ball and like Russell, plays with a mature head on her shoulders. The thing that has impressed me the most when I’ve watched Jenna has been her composure in front of goal. She has supreme calmness when a shooting chance comes her way, and she hits the target more times than she misses. In a recent game that I was watching Jenna play against Pali Blues, she had a ball played through to her and found herself one on one with the goalkeeper. She had one look up and calmly passed the ball into the corner of the net to score the winning goal.
Just prior to that match, she scored two goals on her W-league debut in a 2-0 win against LA Strikers, while also finding the back of the net in her last game against Seattle Sounders on Wednesday to make it four goals in her first four games. Proven goalscorers only come along every so often, and it is something very hard to teach players.
It’s been an eventful few months for the White Rock, BC, native as she burst onto the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I scene in 2010 with Oregon State, contributing nine goals and five assists for 14 points in 19 appearances for the Beavers. She went on to be named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, as well as making it onto the Pac-10 All-Conference second team.
On the international level, Jenna has four caps and one goal while playing for the Canadian U-20 women’s national team. In 2010, she represented Canada during the CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship in Guatemala.
Russell and Jenna have a long way to go to reach the heights of Bobby and Andrea on the club and international level, but they’ve shown so far in their young careers that they have all the tools to succeed.
Watch other Canadian soccer stars of the future this Friday, July 1, as Whitecaps FC host a Canada Day PDL and W-League doubleheader against British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC at Richmond’s Minoru Park. First, the Whitecaps FC Residency squad suit up against Highlanders FC in PDL action at 4 p.m. PT, as head coach Richard Grootscholten’s side continue to fight for a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference, Northwest Division. Then at 7 p.m. PT, the Whitecaps FC women’s team host the Highlanders FC women, as they continue their quest to lock down a postseason berth. Tickets for Friday's doubleheader are available for just $12 at whitecapsfc.com/wtickets.