Whitecaps prepare for Nationals

As the Thanksgiving long weekend approaches, Canada’s top youth and senior amateur teams are set to meet in the BMO National Championships. Starting on Wednesday and running through to Thanksgiving Monday, five venues across Canada will be hosting both male and female national tournaments at the U-14, U-16, U-18, Senior, and Masters levels. Halifax, Nova Scotia, is the venue for the senior men’s Hyundai Cup competition and the senior women’s Jubilee Trophy tournament. For Vancouver Whitecaps left fullback Steve Kindel and his Surrey United women’s side, it is an opportunity to defend the Canadian title that they won as hosts in 2006. Kindel’s side made the trip to the Maritimes after claiming their fourth straight BC Provincial Cup title with victory over Victoria’s Gorge FC in the final in Nanaimo last May. Kindel expects all the teams to be competitive in Halifax this week. “We obviously want to defend the championship,” said the Surrey United head coach. “We’re very optimistic we can do that, as we are at nationals for the fourth straight time and we have a general sense of the competition that is here. We’re very respectful of our opponents, as we can’t really look at the traditional strength levels of the provinces. Teams like Nova Scotia might have one team where all the best players gravitate to, while teams from Ontario and BC usually have three or four good teams and the better players might be spread out on those squads. You have to respect each team you play in your group games.” Three former Whitecaps women’s players are included in Kindel’s squad in Halifax this week. They include his wife, midfielder Sara Maglio, defender Sadie McLure and Canadian World Cup defender Randee Hermus. Their first game will likely be a tough encounter against Ontario champions London City Galaxy on Wednesday. They then face First Touch FC of New Brunswick on Thursday before taking on Manitoba Sweat Shack on Friday and concluding their round-robin play against AC Milano from Saskatchewan on Saturday. By then, Surrey will hope to have reached the Gold Medal final on Monday morning. “Ontario will be a very tough match for us,” Kindel said. “Looking at how they came through their province, they went undefeated through their season and provincial playdowns, so they have a habit of winning. It will be a good contrast in strengths, as Ontario are very young, while we have a veteran squad with plenty of experience.” Whitecaps participation in this week’s national championships is not confined to the senior ranks, as three of the club’s Residency players are representing their Alberta-based youth teams. Ethan Gage is at the U-16 Adidas Cup competition in Sherwood Park, Alberta, with Calgary Elbow Valley Villains, while Marcus Johnstone and Antonio Rago are in Fredericton, New Brunswick, at the U-18 Sony Cup with Edmonton Juventus 89. Everyone at the Whitecaps wishes its current and former players the best of luck in their quest for a Canadian championship.