This Saturday night on Vancouver Island, the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) takes centre spot when Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (1W-1L-0D) will travel to Bear Mountain Stadium in Langford, BC, to battle British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC (1W-1L-1D) for the first game of a two-match road trip. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT.
Saturday's match will be a test of depth for the young 'Caps, as six players have been called by head coach Sean Fleming for Canada's U-17 national team preparation camp ahead of this year's FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. Residency defenders Adam Polakiewicz and Daniel Stanese join the midfield quartet of Bryce Alderson, Wesley Cain, Yassin Essa, and Matteo Pasquotti in heading to Sunrise, Florida, for an 11-day camp that concludes on May 29. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, meanwhile, is also on international duty with the United States U-20 squad at a camp in Vichy, France.
As a result, four Major League Soccer roster players have been assembled to add experience, depth, and leadership for the Residency team this weekend. Making his PDL debut is 'Caps centre back Michael Boxall. Drafted first overall in the 2011 MLS Supplementary Draft, the New Zealand international has made six starts in MLS this season, while playing a full 90 minutes in the first leg of this year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship semifinal at Montreal Impact on April 27. Boxall will be looked upon to lead the backline against a Highlanders FC side that will be seeking to end a two-match winless streak in the PDL.
Joining Boxall will be three MLS players who participated in last weekend’s home win versus Abbotsford Mariners. Michael Nanchoff, Alexandre Morfaw, and Philippe Davies are all expected to be in the starting line-up and will all look to continue their development from last weekend's win. Morfaw is coming off an impressive two-goal performance in 77 minutes of action and will accompany fellow midfielder Davies in directing the pace of the match. Nanchoff will look to continue to find his form, as he builds off his first bit of competitive action with Vancouver this season, with the University of Akron product missing preseason with a groin injury.
With Sylvestre missing, backup goalkeepers Callum Irving and Sean Melvin will await head coach Richard Grootscholten’s decision as to who will start against Highlanders FC. Sylvestre played the Residency team's first two PDL matches this season, with Irving serving as his backup. Last season, Irving made his PDL debut when he started the 1-1 away draw with Kitsap Pumas on June 27, 2010. He made three PDL appearances for 270 minutes of action in 2010 and recorded a goals'-against average of 2.00.
Following their match-up against Highlanders FC on Vancouver Island, Whitecaps FC Residency will head to the Fraser Valley for a re-match against Abbotsford Mariners at Bateman Park on Sunday, May 29, at 3 p.m. PT. After Saturday's home match against Vancouver, Highlanders FC begin their own four-match road trip, starting against Washington Crossfire on Saturday, June 4.