VANCOUVER - With three matches left in the regular season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency squads are looking to further solidify their berths in the postseason as they travel to Washington to take on Seattle Sounders FC U-16 and U-18 teams. The matches will take place this Saturday, May 10 at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington.
Whitecaps FC U-18 sit second in United States Soccer Development Academy’s (USSDA) Northwest Division with a 15W-5L-4D record. Currently, they sit in a playoff spot, as the 12th seed, with only three games remaining in the regular season.
The 'Caps haven’t played since their match against Santa Cruz Breakers Academy U-18 on April 27, but there’s enough good tape from that match to last a month. It was an all-around brilliant performance for Vancouver, an 8-0 win with hat tricks from both Mason James and Matthew Chow. Dario Zanatta also scored for the Blue and White.
Seattle Sounders FC U-18 (14W-3L-5D) are currently just one spot ahead of Vancouver in the Northwest Division and a mere two spots ahead in the overall playoff race, sitting first and 10th, respectively.
The last match between these two clubs represented how close these two sides really are, as Sounders FC won by the slimmest of 2-1 margins. The hard-fought matchup seemed to be out of reach when Kenneth Sweet put Seattle up 2-0 in the 73rd. Whitecaps FC U-18 came back hard, but, despite a late goal by Mitch Piraux, could not come all the way back to equalize.
Residency staff coach Niall Thompson hasn’t had to do much to get his players excited for the matchup with Seattle, stating, “We'll be prepared for a tough test against the Sounders. We won't have to motivate the players much going into this type of game, they’re our closest rivals and we have some great history between the clubs.”
It may be a younger squad for the U-18s this weekend, as regulars Marco Bustos, Marco Carducci, and Kianz Froese all made their first team debuts in the Amway Canadian Championship on Wednesday. All three players started, with Carducci getting the nod in net and playing the full 90 minutes, while Bustos played 64 minutes and Froese 77 minutes. Also getting into the 18-man lineup were Piraux, Jordan Haynes, and Jackson Farmer - the latter of whom was recently recalled from a loan to USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery.
Whitecaps FC U-16 (14W-4L-6D) sit atop the USSDA’s Northwest Division and 3rd in the Western Conference. This excellent record lands them squarely in the playoff picture, sitting comfortably at 10th overall.
Also on a bye since April 27, the Blue and White should still be riding some significant momentum from their last match. The contest, a 7-2 victory over Santa Cruz Breakers Academy U-16, was an absolutely dominant performance. Aymar Sigue and Cole Morokovich scored a brace each, and the Blue and White controlled the flow of the play all the way through the match.
Seattle Sounders FC U-16 (13W-4L-5D) are right on Whitecaps FC U-16’s tail in the Northwest Division sitting in second with the exact same points-per-game as the ‘Caps, but with two less games played.
Vancouver might also have a little something extra to prove, as the previous match between these two clubs ended in a 3-0 Seattle victory. However, despite the history between both these clubs and their MLS rival parents, head coach Rich Fagan is adamant that, in terms of getting the team ready, no real changes are made for these rivalry games.
“We don’t really prepare any different for the derby games," said Fagan. "As a staff we do everything possible to prepare the players for every competition.”
However, Fagan echoes Thompson and gladly admits that there is an “extra buzz around the training facility” for players that really enjoy the Cascadian rivalry.