The Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency Program began a six-match exhibition schedule in Mexico on Wednesday with a 4-2 defeat against the U-18 side of Mexican Primera Division club Estudiantes Tecos in Guadalajara.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten started a younger squad composed of 16- and 17-year-olds with the older players resting for a Friday match against the U-19/U-20 side of Atotonilco.
The Whitecaps youngsters started strong, taking an early 1-0 lead off of a penalty shot. They eventually fell behind 2-1 before knotting the match at 2-2 at the half. A second-half strike and a late penalty rounded out the scoring for Tecos.
“We like to win, we had a chance to win that game, but it’s absolutely not the main part,” said Grootscholten from Mexico. “My main goal, and the goal of the club, is to develop players, to pick up players for the first team.”
The Dutchman was not dismayed by the loss, but acknowledged that there is room for improvement.
“We saw a lot of things that didn’t go well, but we can work on that,” said Grootscholten. “We try to have an individual plan with each player to work on their weak parts and to make their qualities much better.”
Most important to Grootscholten is the positive work rate that he’s seen so far from this year’s Residency crop.
“They are absolutely committed to learn, and they have very good attitudes to train and to develop.”
Despite the loss to Tecos, Grootscholten feels optimistic about the squad’s time in Mexico.
"We can train on grass for two weeks in nice weather,” said Grootscholten. “So that’s of course a winning situation.”
Friday’s match against Atotonilco will be followed by games against the youth teams of Atlas de Guadalajara, Tecos’ U-19/U-20 side, Chivas de Guadalajara and Club de Universidad Guadalajara.
2’ – VAN - Ben Fisk (penalty kick)
22’ – TECOS
44’ – VAN - Ben Fisk (Wesley Cain)
72’ – TECOS (penalty kick)
81’ – TECOS
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
Sean Melvin; Tim Hickson, Adam Polakiewicz (Kalem Scott 72’), Daniel Stanese, Ben McKendry (Nelson Castillo 72’); Wesley Cain (Spencer DeBoice 65’), Bryce Alderson, Matteo Pasquotti (Kevin Cobby 65’), Ben Fisk; Carlos Marquez (Alex Semenets 55’), Dalen Babic (Doudou Toure 55’)
Subs not used: Callum Irving, Caleb Clarke, La’Vere Corbin-Ong, Hector Garcia, Coulton Jackson, Declan Rodriguez