Vancouver Whitecaps FC Pre-Residency, the youngest players in the ‘Caps full-time development program, have been given a well deserved summer break after the conclusion of their successful 2013 campaigns.
The U-14s and U-15s finished their respective seasons with winning records, while the U-13s were outmuscled at times by their older foes, but gained valuable experience which will benefit them for the long term.
Two main MLS Pre-Academy tournaments highlighted the young ‘Caps seasons. First up was a tournament hosted by Seattle Sounders FC last September, followed by the Portland Timbers Friendship Cup in May.
In the Seattle-based tournament, the U-14 team held an even record of 1W-1L-1D, which included an exciting 3-3 draw against the Sounders - a rivalry not lost on the young 'Caps. The U-15 team, meanwhile, went 2W-1L-0D at the same tournament.
Several months later, the ‘Caps had another strong showing in the Portland Timbers Friendship Cup. The U-13 team went 1W-1L-1D, with the highlight game of the tournament coming in a 2-2 draw against the Timbers, another 'Caps rival. In the same tournament, the U-14 squad went 1W-2L-0D, while controlling much of the play in their matches, while the U-15 ‘Caps finished the tournament with a winning record of 2W-1L-0D.
For much of the season, the Pre-Residency teams played matches against older teams from the EA SPORTS BC Soccer Premier League (BCSPL). Both the U-15 and U-14 teams competed very well against the year-older BCSPL competition. Every game was competitive for the boys, and though results aren't the main focus in the development of the club's young players, both the U-14 and U-15 teams won the majority of their matches.
The U-13 team had more difficulty competing against the elder BCSPL teams. A main reason for this was the physical size difference between the U-13 team and the BCSPL U-14 teams. Further into the season the U-13s managed to compete much better, signs that their development is progressing smoother and a bright future remains well in sight.
For Pre-Residency head coach Bart Choufour, the BCSPL matches for his young teams were of paramount importance for the players’ development.
“The games with the BCSPL clubs were invaluable,” commented Choufour. “[The matches] gave our players fantastic competitive games on a regular basis.”
According to Choufour, the high point of the season was a series of matches against the Sounders in which the ‘Caps earned three huge wins, with the U-13s winning 3-0, the U-14s winning 4-1, and the U-15s winning 5-1 against their Interstate-5 rivals.
The summer break will be quite short for a few players who've come up through the Pre-Residency crop, as six 'Caps were recently called up for a U-15 national team camp.
Next cycle will be one of transition for the Pre-Residency group, as they move from three teams to a single group. And with a year of experience behind them, expect them to return to action in September stronger than ever.