Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 and U-16 Residency teams are back on the road this weekend for the third games of their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) seasons.
Both sides will lock horns with Real Salt Lake AZ at Grande Sports World just outside of Phoenix.
It will be the first matches this season that the two Residency teams will be competing against another MLS academy program.
As usual, the U-18s will play first, with kickoff set for 9 a.m. PT, followed by the U-16s at 10.30 a.m. PT.
With head of high performance and interim head coach Stuart Neely away, the U-18s will be guided by U-16 head coach Craig Dalrymple and his assistants.
The team started its season with back-to-back match days in searing conditions in California earlier this month.
The eldest 'Caps Residency squad defeated Pateadores 3-1 on Saturday, September 8, before going down 3-0 to Strikers FC the next day.
But Dalrymple said the boys were ready to put their best foot forward against a tough opponent on Saturday.
“They’ve been focusing on similar topics to the 16s,” he said. “They’re hungry, they’re a really strong group, and they’re a group that’s graduated from our U-16 team last year, so they’re desperate to get some success on the field this weekend.”
The U-18s will be buoyed by the experience that four squad members earned in Whitecaps FC’s 2-1 defeat to San Jose in an MLS reserve league match on September 10.
“They got some experience playing with some senior pros and getting coached by the first team staff, which is great for their development,” Dalrymple added.
The U-16 Residency team will be looking for its first win of the season in Arizona.
The side registered a scoreless draw in its opening match against Pateadores before losing 4-1 to a fast-starting Strikers FC outfit.
Head coach Dalrymple said the team has been following a carefully-prepared program that was developed before the season.
“We have a set annual curriculum or training plan that we follow,” he said. “We don’t necessarily work game-to-game, we just want to give them a good well-rounded soccer education during the season and then tie in some of the game-to-game needs as we go through.
“Specifically in the last couple of weeks we’ve worked on connecting passes through the middle third of the field so we can play out from the goalkeeper and back four consistently, and now we just want to make sure we get that ball into the midfielders in a positive manner so they can open up on plays forward.
“The second topic we’ve worked on is trying to press a little bit higher from the front and try to create turnovers in the attacking half with the intent to counter and score quickly.”
Taking the last match into account, Dalrymple’s goals heading into the RSL game are quite simple.
“Just to be better,” he said. “Be better on the things that we’ve worked on in training and just to be better individually and collectively. We had some good moments in both games on our last road trip and now we’ve just got to try extend the time that we’re performing well.
“So hopefully we’ll be playing at the level that we want to play at.”
Vancouver Whitecaps FC are preparing to launch a special offer for fans on 2013 Season Tickets. To thank fans for their continued support, those who purchase Season Tickets from Saturday, September 22 to Wednesday, October 3 will receive a special signing bonus of 12 per cent off. Fans can take advantage of this offer and renew or purchase their Season Tickets online at whitecapsfc.com or by phone at 604.669.9283.