After a two week break, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency returns to United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) action this weekend with two matches each in San Diego, California. First, the U-18 Residency side plays San Diego Surf U-17/18 at 12:00 p.m. PT, followed by the U-16 Residency squad facing San Diego Surf U-15/16 at 2:30 p.m. PT. Both matches will be played on Field 7 at the San Diego Polo Club.
On Sunday, the U-18 ‘Caps kick things off against Nomads SC U-17/18 at 12:00 p.m. PT. The U-16 ‘Caps then wrap up the weekend against Nomads SC U-15/16 at 2:30 p.m. PT. Both of Sunday’s matches will be played at Kinsell Field.
After a fine 3-1 victory over Real So Cal U-15/16 in their last outing on October 22, Whitecaps FC U-16 Residency will look to continue to gain ground in the USSDA West Conference Northwest Division. The U-16 ‘Caps are currently on a three-match winning streak, conceding only a single goal in that time span. While the defence has been sound in recent matches, Residency technical director and head coach Richard Grootscholten would like to see his teams continue to improve on the offensive end. “We’re trying to get better in the final third, more movement in the attack,” said Grootscholten. “That’s what we’ve been working on in training.”
Vancouver will hope to get continued production from Brody Huitema, a product of Coquitlam Metro-Ford soccer club, and Ali Musse, a product of Winnipeg's Earl Grey soccer club, who have each registered three goals in four matches so far this season. The squad will also see the addition of U-14 Residency standouts Briam Im, who came from the Victoria Capitals soccer club, Patrick Izett, from Delta Selects, and Evan Libke, another product of Coquitlam Metro-Ford soccer club. Grootscholten sees the experience as a positive step for the younger players. “It’s an open door between the different age groups and we try to give them experience,” explained the Dutchman. “They need to see how the level is, so hopefully we can get them some playing time.”
Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency will look to maintain their unbeaten record in USSDA competition this weekend. The ‘Caps put in a dominating effort in their last match with a 5-1 win against Real So Cal U-17/18, as striker Caleb Clarke scored two goals to increase his team-leading total to seven on the season.
Vancouver will be boosted by the return of Clarke, along with fellow Residency teammates Bryce Alderson and Ben Fisk – who both also scored against Real So Cal. All three had been training with the ‘Caps MLS squad during the first training camp under new head coach Martin Rennie.
Grootscholten had also been with the MLS squad, assisting Rennie throughout training camp, and this weekend will be a good test for his young players who hope to eventually move on to that level. “It will be an interesting trip with the travel and being on the road,” said Grootscholten. “That is an important part of being a professional player, especially in MLS.”
Personal development plans:
Last week the ‘Caps coaching staff conducted individual player evaluations for all players in the Residency program, putting each player on a personal player development plan. Grootscholten is eager to see how the players respond to their instructions. “It will be interesting to see how they react in game situations,” said Grootscholten. “We will continue to work with them and monitor how they progress technically, tactically and mentally.”
Following this weekend’s action, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency U-16 and U-18 return to the field on Thursday, November 17, at University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Thunderbird Park. The U-18 ‘Caps will play Santa Cruz Breakers Academy U-17/18 at 4 p.m. PT, followed by the U-16 boys facing the Breakers U-15/16 team at 6:30 p.m. PT.