VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams fly south for the final time this season as their playoff push begins to heat up. With only five games left in the in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) 2013-2014 season, the Blue and White Residency squads gear up for a pair of weekend matches against De Anza Force on April 26 and Santa Cruz Breakers Academy on April 27. The ‘Caps look to secure their place in the playoffs as the U-18s are currently seeded 12th while the U-16s are currently seeded third in the wild card spots.
This is a tale of two matchups, if the standings are any indication. Whitecaps FC U-18 (14W-5L-3D) sit in second in the USSDA’s Northwest Division while De Anza Force (13W-4L-6D) are right on their heels, sitting in third. On the other hand, Santa Cruz Breakers Academy (0W-21L-2D) sit at eighth place and are still looking for their first win of the season.
The difficulty of the match against the Force certainly isn’t lost on Residency staff coach Niall Thompson, who stated, “Going into this weekend, looking at the standings, our first game on the Saturday against De Anza will be a real tough test for us. I’m imagining a real technical battle.”
The ‘Caps go into the weekend with a good deal of confidence, fresh off a 2-0 win over another Northwest Division rival, Crossfire Premier. The game was close up until the final few minutes, when Whitecaps FC turned to their most reliable scorers. Kianz Froese (88th minute) and Marco Bustos (90th minute) pulled out the victory for the ‘Caps and are pacing the team with 11 and 12 goals, respectively.
It’s the ‘Caps first encounter against both of these teams since early October 2013, matches in which they lost 3-1 to De Anza and beat Santa Cruz 4-0.
Whitecaps FC U-16 head to California determined to rid themselves of the memory of their most recent game, a 4-1 loss to Crossfire Premier’s U-16 team. According to U-16 head coach Rich Fagan, “The boys were disappointed with the results this past weekend, not necessarily their performance, and they’re excited to get the opportunity to play again and rebound.”
The matchup against De Anza seems to be as good an opportunity to rebound as any, as the Force’s U-16 team are sitting fifth in the USSDA Northwest Division, just two spots behind Whitecaps FC. The last time these two teams played, the Force defeated Vancouver by a score of 4-3, so there should a little extra motivation for the ‘Caps.
Santa Cruz Breakers Academy U-16 come into this match with two wins on the season and the second last spot in the Northwest Division.
This is the beginning of the playoff push for the ‘Caps, as after this weekend, only three games remain in the season. Sitting in the third wild card position, these last few matches are of particular importance to the Blue and White, but Fagan is comfortable with his team’s place going into the regular season’s home stretch, stating “Our goal at the start of the season was to secure a playoff spot and right now we’re in good stead to make that happen.”