Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams have put themselves in a strong position to climb up the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) tables in the coming weeks after winning five of six games at the Academy’s Winter Showcase in Bradenton, Florida.
The U-18s dropped their first match of the event to CASL Chelsea Academy 3-2 on November 30 before bouncing back to destroy Sporting Kansas City 4-1. The Gordon Forrest-led outfit then finished off their trip on a high note with a 3-1 victory over Crew Academy yesterday.
Craig Dalrymple’s U-16 side fared even better, winning each of their three matches starting with a 2-1 triumph over CASL on December 1.
There was no hint of fatigue the next day as Whitecaps FC trounced Sporting Kansas City 6-3 before rounding out their jaunt to Florida with a 2-1 win over Crew Academy today.
Next up for the Residency teams are dates with Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers in their first USSDA regular season action at home this season, on December 16 at South Surrey Athletic Park.
In a terrific opening 45 minutes against CASL, Whitecaps FC built a 2-0 lead before succumbing to a 3-2 loss.
Coach Gordon Forrest said that match taught his team about the importance of not letting up with a two-goal lead and applying the killer blow.
The U-18s didn’t have to wait long to put that into practice.
In the next match against Sporting KC, Carlos Marquez and Yassin Essa scored in the first half. While Kansas City reduced the lead just after the hour-mark, Whitecaps FC pressed on and got two goals from Canadian U-17 international Marco Bustos in the 71st and 76th minutes.
The team backed up that comprehensive effort with another solid performance against Crew Academy two days later.
Striker Brody Huitema opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Columbus equalised at the 30-minute mark before Huitema regained the lead for the ‘Caps with the game-winner 15 minutes from time.
Titouan Chopin added an insurance goal in the 84th minute.
Forrest was very pleased with what he saw and was equally happy to see his team learn from the result in the first game.
“It was a really good first half performance against CASL,” he said. “It died a little bit in the second half and we lost 3-2. But it was a valuable learning experience for us - being 2-0 up we’ve got to try to kill the game off, so the final score was positive for us in a learning sense.
“In the second game, it helped that we were 2-0 up at halftime again. We learnt our lesson from that first game so it was great to be in that situation once again and rectifying it by keeping control of the game in the second half.
“The third game was a challenging game in terms of a physical opponent and learning to deal with those situations while maintaining discipline, and most importantly, battling through the game to keep our game plan in focus.
“Overall it was a really good learning experience for us as a group,” he said. “They were challenging games against teams we’re not used to playing against in our own conference, but overall the outcomes and performances were great across the entire trip.”
The U-16s got off to a flying start against CASL Chelsea FC Academy through a seventh-minute strike from Dario Zanatta. Terran Campbell clinched the match in the 75th minute before CASL pulled a goal back three minutes later, but the 'Caps held on for a 2-1 win.
Against SKC, Whitecaps FC surged to a 3-0 lead inside 30 minutes thanks to goals from Matthew Chow, Evan Libke and Aymar Sigue, before the rival MLS academy team found the back of the net twice before halftime.
The late first half goals failed to faze Vancouver as Jordan Haynes, Zanatta and Chow each scored within a span of ten minutes to ice the match.
In their final game against the Crew, Francesco Saporito and Chow ensured the ‘Caps would return home with a perfect 3W-0L-0D record.
Heading into the Showcase, Dalrymple was confident his team would put in a solid display across the three matches.
“We had a couple of good performances before this trip,” he said. “We followed that up with a couple of weeks at training and ironed out some of the things that we wanted to employ down in Florida.
“Fortunately the performances were very consistent and very good and the results were too.”
While such results would please any coach, it was the consistency that impressed the no-nonsense Dalrymple the most.
“There were no real flat spots in any of the three games from a performance standpoint,” he said. “We never really felt like we were out of the games and we employed the principles of how we want to play in all three games, which was more pleasing to me than the results themselves.
“We had specific objectives we wanted to get out of the games as well as take some of our training concepts out on to the field and we did that.
“So the consistency was the most important thing for me. The performances were of a high level. There’s still more room for improvement as you can expect but I’m just pleased the boys have got some rewards for the hard work they’ve put in over the last three months.”