VANCOUVER, BC - Whitecaps FC wrapped up the Vancouver leg of their 2021 Training Camp, presented by Enerex, this week, as the team flies to Utah on Friday for the final stretch of preparations ahead of the MLS regular season.
The 'Caps welcomed a new face to training this past week as Colombian winger Déiber Caicedo joined his new teammates on the pitch after completing his mandatory quarantine.
"I'm really happy to share the field with my teammates, they've been waiting for me for a long time now. It felt really good and now we just have to take it bit by bit," said Caicedo following his first session.
"What I saw from so many hours of scouting and recruiting with the staff is an explosive player. Very fast in attacking the space, very aggressive, very good technical ability, combined with a good mindset and good energy," said head coach Marc Dos Santos.
"He's going to add a lot of attacking spice on the left side. He's going to be a valuable asset to the team. Being a fellow Colombian, we have that grassroot connection and I'm trying to be as welcoming to him as other players were welcoming to me when I arrived," said teammate Cristian Dajome.
"We're building plans around the guys who have the best chance of playing minutes in MLS, to get them ready to play the way we want to play," said Dos Santos.
The 'Caps have made it clear the whole offseason that the goal is to be comfortably above the playoff line following league play, and that's what they've been training for.
"We have a lot of objectives that we want to nail down this season both personally and as a group, which is the most important part," said Dajome.
Dos Santos also admitted that the absence of some players, whether away on international duty or awaiting their visas before they can join the team, presents a challenge for the staff.
"The level on intensity and the commitment have been good but the best way to prepare is when you have the whole team together but right now, that has been the biggest challenge this preseason," said Dos Santos.
The team is expected to reunite with the eight Canada national team players who missed the latter end of the Vancouver camp, but will miss Ali Adnan to start their stay in Utah. The Iraqi international is awaiting on his visa before he could follow the team to the United States.
Up to 14 different BMO Academy System players participated in the first-team camp, and five are joining the trip to Utah - Amir Batyrev, Matteo Campagna, Keishean Francois, Kamron Habibullah, and Jay Herdman.
"It's massive for them to be with the first team, to be able to train in a platform that is going to help them to improve because the level and the demands are going to be higher," said Vanni Sartini, who moved from the first-team bench to a new role as the club's directory of methodology, as well as the U-23 head coach.
"When you send them to the first team, it’s a reward but it should be a message to them. Now it's up to you to show us that you have the quality to be there. But the quality is not enough, you need to really be able to push yourself over your limit so it's just a starting point. I hope that being with the first team is going to make them realize that, and also when they come back to their team, they're going to be pushing all the others up and trying to improve the level of the other kids on the team," added Sartini.
Dos Santos also shared that there are youth players who are on pace to one day moving up to the first team.
"There are guys that are on track and we're following and talking about them as future players for this club," said Dos Santos.
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