Looking to end 2011 on a positive note, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams make the short trip down Interstate 5 for their final set of United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) matches this year, as they face Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC Academy in Tukwila, Washington, on Saturday afternoon.
Coming off a productive weekend of non-conference matches at the USSDA Winter Showcase earlier this month, the Whitecaps FC Residency U-16 and U-18 squads return to action in the Northwest Division of the USSDA’s West Conference by facing their Cascadia rivals at Starfire Sports Stadium.
The U-18 Residency squad (7W-1L-2D) kick things off at 12 p.m. PT with their match versus Sounders FC Academy U-17/18 (6W-3L-3D) before the U-16 Residency side (6W-2L-2D) battle Sounders FC Academy U-15/16 (8W-2L-2D) in a top-of-the-table clash at 2:30 p.m. PT. The U-14 Residency program will also be in action at the Starfire Sports Complex, with two teams playing simultaneously against their U-14 Sounders FC Academy counterparts at 11 a.m. PT.
“It will be a special day on Saturday, as we’re travelling to Seattle with the U-14’s,” Residency technical director and head coach Richard Grootscholten told whitecapsfc.com. “There will be a lot of parents that will travel with us, so it will be a bit of a ‘Whitecaps day’ in Seattle, which will be nice. Hopefully, all our teams perform well.”
After claiming a 1W-1L-1D record at the Winter Showcase in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, the U-18 Residency squad will look to finish the year strongly by earning a result over their Washington State foes. The Young ‘Caps hope to have centre backs Ben McKendry and Daniel Stanese, midfielders Bryce Alderson and Ben Fisk, as well as striker Caleb Clarke available. All five players just completed a training camp with the Canadian U-20 national team in Florida. Four U-16 Residency players may also see action in the midday contest. Goalkeeper Nolan Wirth, defenders Sam Adekugbe and Quinton Duncan, and striker Sebastian Cabrera could all feature for the U-18 squad.
“Seattle is doing well, as the way of developing players is similar to us, so these are fantastic games for our players to play,” said Grootscholten. “Both teams are at the top of the standings, so it also makes it an interesting match from a results point of view. The game gives us another chance to try and develop the players in the way we want them to play.”
The U-16 Residency squad’s exploits at the Winter Showcase followed the same pattern as their U-18 teammates, as they also registered a 1W-1L-1D record in Florida. Saturday provides the squad with an opportunity to head into the Holiday break in high spirits by earning a derby result. Grootscholten has called up four members of the U-14 Residency squad for the weekend clash. They include the defensive trio of Olamide Ajibike, Matteo Bordignon, and Evan Libke, as well as midfielder/striker Brian Im.
“With several U-14’s coming up and some of them starting the game on Saturday, we will be young, but it gives these players an opportunity to show what they can do,” said Grootscholten. “I’m sure they will look forward to this game and will give their best against Seattle. It will an interesting contest.”