It's been a fun inaugural USL season for Whitecaps FC 2. It comes to a close with three straight Sunday home matches, starting this weekend with a date against defending champions Sacramento Republic FC at Thunderbird Stadium. Kickoff this Sunday is at 3 p.m. PT with tickets still available through ticketmaster.ca.
As we approach the end of the first season, below are a few numbers that stand out on the impact that we've seen from head coach Alan Koch and his young squad.
Implementing WFC2 has created a bridge between the Residency program and the first team. Young players need minutes to develop, and one benchmark to measure if that's happening is to see who has played 1,000 or more minutes. In the inaugural season, seven different Residency products have each played more than 1,000 minutes. In total, 12 Residency graduates have played for the USL squad, totaling 155 games played between them.
The main goal of WFC2 is to prepare players for first team action, and to keep them sharp when called upon. This season, players who have appeared in USL for the Blue & White have played in an impressive 100 games for the first team, including MLS, CONCACAF Champions League, and Amway Canadian Championship matches.
Rookie Tim Parker (pictured) is one player who has taken advantage of his opportunities. After making seven early appearances with WFC2, the gritty centre back has played in 14 matches with the first team, clearly establishing himself as an MLS-quality starter. Parker has also shown a knack for scoring off of corner kicks, adding crucial goals in both the Champions League and Canadian Championship final.
In total, 12 different players who’ve seen time with WFC2 have played with the MLS squad so far this season.
That’s the percentage of total minutes played by Canadians this season. In total, 16 different Canadian players have seen the field for WFC2.
Our young Canadians haven’t just made up the numbers either, they’ve accounted for 20 of the 34 goals scored, including five game winning goals, and 12 assists.
One player who has excelled this season has been attacking talent Marco Bustos (pictured). Having the benefit of training and learning from the likes of Pedro Morales and Mauro Rosales seems to have rubbed off on the Winnipeg, Manitoba native. Bustos has recorded six goals and two assists this season, and three times has been named to the USL Team of the Week.
The number of players on the WFC2 roster (or who’ve played with WFC2) that have been called up to their national teams in 2015. Among those players were Jackson Farmer (pictured) and Caleb Clarke who represented Canada at the U-23 level in the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.
Also among those players is newcomer Deklan Wynne, who played with New Zealand as they hosted the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup this year. Wynne has also already been capped by the Kiwis senior men's national team.
Marking the number 12 is the amount of professional debuts so far this season. Midfielder Ben McKendry (pictured) is one of those debutants.
Born and raised in Vancouver, McKendry graduated from the Residency program in 2012 before spending three years playing at the University of New Mexico. He returned prior to this season to sign an MLS Homegrown contract, and he’s shown just how talented he is. While patrolling the middle of the park, McKendry has both defended valiantly and darted into attack with two goals this year.
As in the number of teenagers who’ve played for WFC2 in 2015. In fact, striker Robert Earnshaw, goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, and WFC2 captain Tyler Rosenlund are the only three players older than 24 to have appeared for coach Koch this season. Of the 33 total players who’ve seen the field, 20 of them are 22 or younger.
The youngest player to see the field for WFC2 so far is 16-year-old Residency product Terran Campbell. Last week, the Burnaby native signed his first professional contract with WFC2 along with Port Coquitlam’s Kadin Chung (pictured) and North Vancouver’s Thomas Gardner.
That’s the number of times that a WFC2 player has been named to the USL Team of the Week. Marco Bustos has led the way by being honoured three times this year. Spaniard Victor Blasco (pictured) was named Week 16 Player of the Week after scoring two goals in the final minutes of a 3-1 home win over Sounders FC 2.
Eight also marks the number of Whitecaps FC selections from the MLS SuperDraft who have played for WFC2 this year. Drafted defenders include Christian Dean, Tim Parker, and Craig Nitti. Behind the backline, goalkeeper Spencer Richey, and in front of them attackers Jovan Blagojevic, Erik Hurtado, Andre Lewis (pictured), and Mackenzie Pridham.
Lewis, who the ‘Caps drafted seventh overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, has begun to blossom. The Jamaican U-23 international has posted three goals and two assists in seven starts since returning from an ACL injury.
Finally, eight is the number of first professional goals that have been scored this year. That thrill has been felt by Victor Blasco, Marco Bustos, Christian Dean (pictured), Brett Levis, Ben McKendry, Craig Nitti, Ethen Sampson, and Chris Serban.
There's no doubt that WFC2 has already become an integral part of the club, providing the necessary platform to push talented players forward in their development. It will be exciting to watch in the coming years as more young stars rise through the ranks.
Come and see the next generation of Whitecaps FC stars as USL arrives in Vancouver. WFC2 matches are a unique and affordable experience for fans, families, students, and supporters. For more information on all WFC2 ticket options, call 604-484-7862 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.