After an unforgiving schedule to begin their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) seasons, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams will be playing at home for the first time this weekend.
Both the U-16s and U-18s will face Portland Timbers at South Surrey Athletic Park on Sunday, hosted by Coastal FC.
The U-18s sit second in the West Conference, Northwest Division with a 5W-4L-1D record while the Timbers’ U-18s are 4W-6L-2D. Both sides will get the ball rolling at 11 a.m. PT.
Then at 1:30 p.m. PT, Craig Dalrymple’s U-16s (5W-4L-1D) will be hoping to build on their strong showing at the recent USSA Winter Showcase event in Florida against a Portland side that is 4W-4L-4D so far this season.
Gordon Forrest’s team took home two wins from three matches at the USSDA Winter Showcase event in Florida to lift them up the table.
“Again, it’s going to be a real challenging and interesting game for our guys,” Forrest said. “It’s always good to match up against the other MLS clubs and because this is a derby game, there will likely be more bite to it."
Forrest said the team has been focused on “tidying up" a few things on the pitch and is looking forward to a match on home turf.
“It will be good to play at home,” he said. “It’s been difficult travelling all the time so it’s been great to have a week’s preparation and a home game at the end of it.
“I’m sure we will get some people to come and watch, such as family and friends of the players as well as Whitecaps FC supporters that want to check in with what’s happening with the young players, so the guys are looking forward to putting on a show for them.”
Dalrymple echoed Forrest’s thoughts on playing at home and is eager to see his charges go into the Christmas break with another win under their belts following three wins from three games in Florida.
“It’s exciting to play at home,” he said. “After 10 games to start the season, it’s our first home game and I’m pleased for the boys to be able to play in front of friends and family."
The past few weeks have been spent reviewing the season to date and going over the program's training principles to ensure they are ingrained in the players' minds over the holiday break.
"The challenge now is to maintain the standard they've now set for themselves," Dalrymple said.
While players will be allowed to indulge a little over the holiday season, he said the players will be put on a plan to ensure they “stay really sharp with their brain and their body before they come back.”