MLS NEXT Fest provides growth for U-17s and U-15s

U-15 lineups

Vancouver Whitecaps FC BMO MLS Academy U-17 and U-15 boys teams were in Indio, California this past week to compete at MLS NEXT Fest. Each team played three games, with two against eastern clubs, and one against a western club outside of their division.


Friday, December 2
4-2 win vs. Houston Dynamo FCAngelo Zhu (penalty won by Kyler Vojvodic)
Amoni Thomas (Liam Mackenzie assist)
Kyler Vojvodic
Kyler Vojvodic (Amoni Thomas assist)

Saturday, December 3
2-0 loss vs. New England Revolution

Monday, December 5
4-2 loss vs. Chicago Fire FC

Kyler Vojvodic (Amoni Thomas assist)
Kyler Vojvodic (Luka Patik assist)

"Events like MLS NEXT Fest are great initiatives from the league, it allows our players the opportunity to play against teams they don't see on a regular basis," said Scott Howey, U-17 head coach. "Each market is so unique in MLS, and these games provide our players with different stresses and challenges which is key to their growth.

Across the three games, there were lots of good moments from our group. It's important that they take the learnings from this event and the first half of the season into the second half when they return from the winter break."


Sunday, December 4
2-2 vs. Columbus Crew - shootout win

Johnny Selemani (Ethan Stiver assist)
Grady McDonnell (Francois Tarlue assist)

Tuesday, December 6
2-2 vs. Sporting Kansas City - shootout loss

Jamil Abubakar
Tyler Marsden (Declan Froh assist)

Wednesday, December 7
2-1 win vs. CF Montreal

Johnny Selemani (Deniz Eren assist)
Yuma Tsuji (Grady McDonnell assist)

"It was a great week for the boys, not only for the experience and learning opportunity but also from their quality of play," noted U-15 head coach Dan Fairhurst. "They scored six brilliant goals and had some really good moments of possession, and when the team faced tough moments they defended like warriors. We were only behind for five minutes over all three games."

It was so nice for the team to have success as we play in a very difficult league and have had some tough results this season, but this week was a result of all the hard work the boys have put in on the training field and in their preparation. It's not just a few players or the starting team that wins the games, it's also the guys who didn't travel to California who have an impact, they all push each other in training to improve every day.

The most positive thing for me was the team spirit, they supported each other throughout and it was a big reason for the success. It's a great way to end the year and I look forward to building off of this in January. I am so pleased the team are becoming resilient and understand what it takes to win an MLS NEXT game."