Declan Rodriguez
Bob Frid

Whitecaps FC Residency return to California for more USSDA action this weekend

In their second set of matches of 2012, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams take to the road once again this weekend, pairing off against United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) sides California Odyssey and academy squads from Major League Soccer (MLS) rivals San Jose Earthquakes.

Their return trip to California will be a busy one for Whitecaps FC U-16 and U-18 squads, as they face a pair of rivals from the Northwest Division of the USSDA’s West Conference in two back-to-back road matches. The action begins with a Saturday doubleheader versus Cal Odyssey at Keith Tice Memorial Park in Fresno, California. Following that, both squads will travel 262 kilometers north to Danville, California, for a Sunday doubleheader against San Jose Earthquakes academy at the Mustang Soccer Complex. The U-18 Residency squad (8W-3L-2D) play first on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, and again on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. The U-16 Residency squad (7W-4L-2D) begin their weekend matches on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. PT, then play in the final match-up of the weekend on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT.

“We play a number of big games in California this weekend, and the team is returning there with a feeling of revenge. On our last trip, the U-18’s received a red card and were forced to play with only 10 men in our loss against Chivas USA Academy,” Residency technical director Richard Grootscholten told whitecapsfc.com. “But sometimes, roadblocks like that present opportunities, and while it was frustrating, young players can really grow mentally from games like that.” That kind of growth is important for Residency players to absorb, if they hope to eventually progress to the next level. “The main goal of Residency is to develop quality players for our first team,” said Grootscholten. “A lot of teams hope to do that, but not a lot of clubs in North America are actually doing it. I absolutely feel like we are doing it now. It’s an exciting time for us.”

U-18

The U-18 Residency squad earned a pair of split results during their last trip to California last month. This time around, they hope to continue the momentum of their last match-up - a 1-0 win against a previously undefeated LA Galaxy Academy side. The pair of matches should prove challenging for the side, as both Cal Odyssey and San Jose sit close behind them in the Northwest Division standings.

The return to fitness of defender Jason van Blerk, midfielder/forward Declan Rodriguez, and striker Carlos Marquez should help bolster the squad. Strikers Caleb Clarke and Ben Fisk are also in the roster after spending the last week in preseason training with the club’s MLS squad. Clarke, in particular, will join the Residency squad in California from the first-team’s preseason training base in Casa Grande, Arizona. Midfielder Bryce Alderson will remain with Whitecaps FC’s MLS side.

U-16

The U-16 Residency squad fell 2-1 to LA Galaxy Academy’s U-15/16 team in their last match-up and will be returning to California hoping for a different result this time out. San Jose Earthquakes U-15/16 squad are currently tied on points with the ‘Caps in the Northwest Division standings, and will be looking to take advantage of playing at home. Cal Odyssey sit not that far behind and should prove equally as competitive.

The full U-16 squad are available for the trip to California, along with U-14 Residency defender Olamide Ajibike, and latest U-16 Residency signing Jordan Hayes, who could make his USSDA debut this weekend.

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