Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18s are set for their final match of the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs group stage this Thursday, June 27, at FC Dallas Sports Park in Dallas, Texas. Updates from the important clash will be provided via @WhitecapsMatch on Twitter.
The 'Caps need only a draw in this final match to win Group 1 and advance to Academy Finals Week
THE JOURNEY SO FAR…
The 'Caps knew they would be in tough when they were drawn into Group 1 with two fellow MLS academies in Chicago Fire U-18 and Houston Dynamo U-18, but it turns out that the darkhorse may be their final opponent, Pennsylvania Classics (PA Classics).
The boys kicked off their playoff campaign on Monday, June 24 with a 3-0 win against Chicago Fire U-18. On 20 minutes, Kianz Froese scored for the Blue and White to give them an early lead. The match was sealed in the final 20 minutes when Brody Huitema and Marco Bustos both scored to give the ‘Caps a perfect start to the playoffs.
Head coach Gordon Forrest’s side continued their winning ways with a huge 5-2 win against Houston Dynamo U-18 this past Tuesday, June 25. Huitema and Bustos continued their playoff scoring spree and Jordan Haynes scored his first goal of the playoffs, while Yassin Essa netted a brace to put the ‘Caps in great position going into the final match of the group stage.
On Thursday, the U-18’s can advance to Finals Week with at least a draw against PA Classics, who are currently in second place in the group with a win and a draw. A win by the Classics, however, would end the ‘Caps dreams of playoff triumph.
Despite only needing a draw, Forrest believes his team will play for the win.
“I know we only need a draw, but obviously we want to win,” commented Forrest. “This group always wants to win and have been winning all season. They’ll fight for it.”
The Blue and White will be in for a tough match, as PA Classics have yet to concede a goal in their first two matches against MLS academy opposition.
The Classics started their postseason with a 2-0 win against Houston Dynamo U-18 on Monday, June 24, with goals coming from Joseph Julius and Drew Mahoney.
The Pennsylvania side then continued their undefeated start to the playoffs earning a 0-0 draw against Chicago Fire U-18 on Tuesday, June 25 to put them on four points, two behind the 'Caps.
Over the course of the regular season, Julius was the team’s top scorer, netting 17 goals in 26 matches played.
An interesting connection between the two clubs is that PA Classics director of coaching Steve Klein played for Whitecaps FC from 2005 to 2007, scoring nine goals in 78 appearances for the club.
If the ‘Caps earn a result against the Classics, the boys will advance to Finals Week set to take place between July 14 to 20 in Houston, Texas. Last year, the Blue and White advanced to the USSDA championship match, but fell to a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to FC Dallas on July 22 at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
In their second match at the USSDA Showcase, the U-16 Residency boys came away with a 2-1 win over IMG Academy in a very strong overall team performance. Daniel Sagno had both goals for the 'Caps in the victory.
The match was a terrific response from the young squad after an opening 2-0 defeat against Weston FC on Monday.