VANCOUVER, BC – At just 23 years, Daniel Haber is already an elder statesman on that young, resilient, and fast-learning group that resides in Thunderbird Stadium.
This should not shock anyone who’s been around the former Ivy Leaguer, who exudes wisdom from his already lengthy resume, that includes starring in the NCAA, then three years playing professional soccer in Israel and Cyprus, along with time on the Canadian senior national team before joining Whitecaps FC 2 prior to the 2016 season.
At Cornell University, the Ontario native was a part of something special that was built from the ground up, culminating in an NCAA Tournament berth as a junior, when he led the country in scoring. In addition, Haber was named a first-team All-American, Ivy League Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Mac-Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to the nation's top soccer player.
“Cornell was an amazing experience. We didn’t have very much success in the first year and we slowly built up,” Haber said. “To have that great year the last year I was there together, to get to the NCAA Tournament, for me to have success individually, it meant a lot to be doing it as a group. It is something I’ll never forget.”
Now as a member of a Whitecaps FC 2 side that is only on its second year of existence in USL, Haber is trying to build something special again and he’s contributing in ways he knows best – productivity on the pitch and being a living example in the locker room.
On the road against rival Timbers 2, Haber took charge and scored two second-half goals to lead WFC2 to a 3-1 win, earning him a USL Team of the Week selection and setting the tone for what’s been a surprising start to the season.
In their most recent match, he came on with the team down a goal in the second half, helping the 'Caps to a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Tulsa Roughnecks FC, netting the game-winner in the final minute of regulation time.
Off the pitch, he already knows what he can teach his younger teammates.
“To help them focus on getting better as an individual in different ways. You have to evaluate how you’re doing at all times, how you’re doing against the guy you’re competing against, how you get around him better, how you can win the next battle,” Haber said. “And then from the training perspective, what you can do to show the coaches that you deserve to be on the field all the time, ahead of the guy who may be in front of you.”
Haber has taken to embracing his role as one of the more experienced players on the roster, and has been impressed by his younger teammates.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are. The young guys on the field, they’re earning their playing time every time,” Haber raved. “They wouldn’t be getting playing time if they didn’t earn it and if they didn’t work hard, and if they didn’t get the trust of their teammates.”
Seeing this every day at training inspires Haber to push harder, as he continues to work towards his goals – both for the team and for himself.
“We feel like we have a good chance against anyone. We expect from ourselves to be out there competing in the end,” Haber said, feeling confident of his fast-developing team.
“I have aspirations of playing on the next level and internationally. I hope to represent Canada again. The only way you get called up to the national team is if you have success with your club. So first things first, I just have to keep my focus on this, having a good season and continuing to progress in my career. And then, who knows what will come.”
Whitecaps FC 2 face a stiff test this Sunday, May 15 when they try to measure up against Western Conference-leading LA Galaxy II, pitting a rematch of the exciting 2-2 comeback draw the 'Caps earned in Carson just two weeks ago. Tickets for the coming match are available here.
This year, every Tier 1 ‘Caps Club MLS membership includes three open tickets to WFC2 matches. Members can select their matches and theme days online through Account Manager. Information on theme days is available at whitecapsfc.com/wfc2/themedays.
Youth season passes are also available for $30 all in. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-484-7862.