VANCOUVER, BC – Five of Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s brightest young prospects will represent the club on the world stage next week with the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup set to kick off in Dubai.
Highly-touted goalkeeper Marco Carducci, who is expected to wear the captain’s armband for the Canadian U-17 national team, will be joined by midfielders Marco Bustos, Matthew Chow, Kianz Froese, and Jordan Haynes.
Carducci and Bustos both referred to the quintet as “brothers” before teammates.
“We’re very close,” Carducci told whitecapsfc.com. “We spend pretty much every day of the week and every minute of the day together. We’re not only teammates … we’ve become best friends, we’ve become brothers.”
“Sure, we have our bad days when we fight and get into arguments,” Bustos chuckled, “but at the end of the day we’re all playing for the same team and we all want to achieve the same goals. It’s an honour to have such great teammates.”
The five Whitecaps FC players are the most from any single club on Canada’s 21-man squad. The hope is that their chemistry off the pitch will translate into on-field success for Team Canada, which is a good bet considering the start they’ve had to the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) season with Vancouver’s U-18 side.
Before departing for Canada’s U-17 World Cup pre-camp last weekend, Bustos, Chow, Froese and Haynes had combined to score 10 of the team’s 13 goals. Bustos and Froese, who has scored a team-high four goals in five matches, assisted on two of the remaining three tallies. Carducci, meanwhile, has posted a clean sheet in each of his two appearances.
“Chemistry within the players is big,” Bustos told whitecapsfc.com. “Trying to go forward and create plays, we know each other’s movements and it gives us confidence just to play within each other and the rest of the squad.”
Whitecaps FC Residency U-18 head coach Gordon Forrest knows all about the chemistry between these players. He said he expects them to each make an impact at the tournament.
Bustos, Chow, Haynes, and Carducci all started games for Canada during their U-17 World Cup qualifying campaign, while Froese - born in Havana, Cuba and having previously played with the country's U-17 national team - was recently cleared by FIFA to play for Canada.
From a club perspective, Forrest said losing five key players may have a short-term effect on the results of the Residency squad, but results have never been the program’s focus.
“From our approach to things, we’re working on developing the young players on the technical side, the tactical side, the physical side and the mental side,” Forrest told whitecapsfc.com. “Going away on an international venture like this is perfect. It fits into these four corners of development.”
In fact, the absence of these players will allow younger players in the 'Caps Residency program to step up and see further action in the USSDA, giving them the opportunity to further progress in their own development. It's a system that the club sees as a model for a successful future.
“It’s a win-win situation for us and also a win-win for the country,” he continued. “We’re putting a lot of time and resources into this program and we’re hoping that the country gets to benefit from this as well.”
Playing in a World Cup is a “dream come true,” said Bustos. Carducci sung a similar tune, saying “words can’t describe” how excited he is for the tournament to get underway.
Canada’s first game is October 19 against Austria. They will also meet Iran on October 22 and Argentina October 25 in the group stage.
“At the international level, we’re playing against the best competition and we know that we have to be at our best to get results and to be able to compete,” Carducci said.
“If the performance is there, the results will come,” he continued. “Obviously, we want to do the best we can. There’s that mindset that we can be the first Canadian team to win a game at the tournament and maybe the first team to get out of the group. That would be huge and something we’d be really proud of, but right now we’re just focusing on the first game.”
Spoken like a true skipper. Carducci said he’s just happy to be involved in the squad – being among the leadership group is an added bonus.
“It means so much to me,” he said. “It’s a huge honour and I’m just hoping to represent myself, the club and the country the best I can.”