Derrick Bassi Portland Timbers U-23
Hannah Gustin/Portland Timbers

Youth Review, Part III: PDL

VANCOUVER, BC – The 2013 United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) campaign proved to be one of the best in recent years for Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23.

After a four-year hiatus, the young ‘Caps made a much-anticipated return to the PDL playoffs this season and took the second-seeded Portland Timbers U-23 to the limit in an agonizing five-round penalty shootout defeat.

Coming into last month’s Northwest Division playoff clash, Whitecaps FC U-23 had claimed at least a point in seven of their final eight matches. Despite the loss, it was an inspiring season on many levels.

For starters, the ‘Caps edged the first-place Victoria Highlanders FC to remain undisputed champions of the supporters-sponsored Juan De Fuca Plate, which is awarded annually to the top PDL team in British Columbia. Vancouver beat out the Highlanders and Fraser Valley Mariners, who have since dropped out of the PDL, to claim the inaugural title in 2012.

The upstart ‘Caps, whose seven wins and 30 goals for were second best in the Northwest Division for both categories, were particularly impressive on home field this season, posting a 4W-1L-2D record.

On the individual front, midfielder Bobby Jhutty was named to the 2013 PDL All-League team after scoring four goals and adding an assist in 15 appearances and 1,000 total minutes.

The midfielder was also named to the PDL All-Western Conference team last week and was joined by teammates Derrick Bassi and Niall Cousens.

Cousens, a University of British Columbia graduate, led the ‘Caps U-23s with eight goals and four assists while playing 14 matches for a total of 1,040 minutes.

The 'Caps PDL squad continues to operate as a summer home for the club's young prospects. Bassi and Jhutty, meanwhile, are two of Vancouver’s PDL players who are products of the Whitecaps FC Residency program. Nearly every player on the roster, 14 in total, came through the 'Caps development system 

Collegiate 'Caps players will also continue to return to the club during the summer to continue in their development.

Some current Residency players, including standout goalkeeper Marco Carducci, also received some PDL minutes this season – as did first team players Simon Thomas and Aminu Abdallah. These were important minutes for these young players, and some exceptional performances were produced by each.

Next season will see a new head coach in charge, as Stuart Neely has moved on. The club would like to thank Neely for his many contributions during his time with Whitecaps FC.

Midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh will also be moving on. Though he wasn't able to contribute this season due to injury, Dosanjh has benefitted from his time in the PDL as he recently signed a contract with FC Edmonton of the NASL.

Much hard work has been put in by Dosanjh in the PDL to earn his professional opportunity, and a similar path awaits future U-23 players who don the Blue and White.