Playing their final home match of the 2011 MLS Reserve League season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves (2W-4L-2D) host Portland Timbers reserves (5W-2L-2D) at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC, on Monday morning. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT. The match is open to the public and can be followed at twitter.com/whitecapsfc.
Coming off a 1-0 victory over San Jose Earthquakes reserves on September 6, the ‘Caps second string will be looking to continue their strong play since the end of July, working on a 2W-1L-1D record in their last four Reserve League matches. With a victory on Monday, Whitecaps FC reserves could leapfrog San Jose into third place in the Reserve League's West Division standings, with one match remaining away to Chivas USA reserves later this month. The last time Portland and Vancouver's second squads met was at JELD-WEN Field on August 21, with the 'Caps reserves suffering a very late 3-2 defeat in The City of Roses.
With rosters not yet finalized, MLS Reserve League matches are a chance for Vancouver's second string to impress Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn and earn a spot in the starting XI, while also allowing for an opportunity for roster players to build fitness. The Reserve League has been important for Whitecaps FC, as the environment has given young players like youngster Omar Salgado a place to mature and develop. The 18-year-old striker currently sits in a tie for second in Reserve League's scoring charts with four goals, including a single tally against the Timbers reserves in their August encounter. Fellow striker Long Tan has potted three Reserve League goals this season.
The pair's performances have boosted their value in Soehn’s eyes, as Salgado and Tan familiarize themselves with North America's top tier of professional soccer. Other players who have seen remarkable improvement in their game after playing in the Reserve League are Michael Boxall, Jeb Brovsky, and Michael Nanchoff. Whitecaps FC Residency players like Derrick Bassi, Caleb Clarke, and Ben Fisk have all been rewarded with reserve team opportunities after a successful campaign in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) this past summer. New Whitecaps FC signing Carlyle Mitchell trained with his new club this week and is expected to make his Reserve League debut on Monday after joining the club before the September 15 MLS roster freeze.
Following Monday's match-up, Whitecaps FC reserves will play their final MLS Reserve League match against Chivas USA reserves at The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on Tuesday, October 18. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT.