VANCOUVER, BC – A busy month for Canada’s youth national teams – and Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency players – came to an end Wednesday when the U-18s suffered a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to Mexico in the third-place match at the 2013 COTIF U-20 Tournament.
In total, 18 Whitecaps FC Residency players – six of whom played in that match – donned the Red and White for Canada over the course of the month.
Like the men’s U-18 national team, Canada’s U-15 side participated in an international competition abroad while the U-17s continued preparations for the upcoming 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
It was an encouraging month for all three teams and the ‘Caps players involved, as the club continues to fulfill one of its mandates of producing national team talent.
Canadian men’s U-18 national team
Several Residency players played a key part in Canada’s fourth-place finish at the prestigious 2013 COTIF U-20 Tournament in Spain.
‘Caps goalkeeper Nolan Wirth was rock-solid for the Canadians all tournament. The Comox, B.C. native posted two clean sheets – against Japan and Belarus – and allowed just six goals in six matches.
Just like Wirth, striker Brody Huitema, midfielder Kianz Froese and defender Sam Adekugbe appeared in all six of Canada’s contests.
Huitema scored the winner for Canada, who played with 10 men for most of the match, in a 1-0 victory over Japan on the opening day of competition.
After suffering a 2-0 loss to Argentina, the Canadians bounced back with consecutive victories against Bulgaria and Belarus to earn a berth in the semifinals against host Spain. Unfortunately, they fell to a 3-0 defeat against the Spaniards before dropping the third-place match to Mexico on penalties.
‘Caps midfielder Mitch Piraux scored Canada’s lone regular time marker in the heartbreaking defeat.
In total, seven Whitecaps FC Residency players saw minutes for the Canadians.
"Overall, we were really pleased," head coach Rob Gale told Canada Soccer. "There was good spirit amongst the group and good quality throughout the tournament. It was good to see our players go toe to toe with these nations."
Canadian men’s U-17 national team
Canada’s preparations for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup continued earlier this month with a 10-day training camp in Sunrise, Florida.
Five Whitecaps FC Residency players took part in the camp, which also included a three-match exhibition schedule.
Standout ‘Caps goalkeeper and Canadian U-17 captain Marco Carducci started all three matches – a 3-1 win over North American Soccer League’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers reserves, a 2-0 win over local men’s team Plantation Eagles FC, and a scoreless draw with Weston FC.
‘Caps midfielders Marco Bustos and Matthew Chow both scored in Canada’s victory over Plantation Eagles FC.
“The atmosphere in camp is really positive,” Carducci told Canada Soccer earlier in the month. “This is the first time we have gotten back together since qualifying and obviously it feels good to be collectively working towards the FIFA U-17 World Cup.”
The 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup is set to begin Oct. 17 in the United Arab Emirates.
Canadian men’s U-15 national team
A total of 12 teams competed in the 2013 Copa Mexico de Naciones, which is supposed to serve as a precursor to the proposed U-15 FIFA World Cup. Canada was placed in Group A, along with Paraguay, Chile and host Mexico.
Six Whitecaps FC Residency players represented the Canadian squad, which defeated Paraguay 2-1 in their tournament opener. Residency midfielder David Norman Jr., whose father David Norman Sr. played for both Whitecaps FC and Canada, scored the winner for Canada through a late penalty after getting hauled down in the box just moments earlier.
The Canadians saw their fortunes reversed a day later in a 2-1 loss to Chile, conceding a winner from the penalty spot three minutes into time added on. With Canadian goalkeeper Alic Rasmussen ejected, fullback Steven Furlano stood in his place for the penalty.
On the final day of group action, the Canadians were eliminated from contention after suffering a 7-0 defeat to host Mexico. Six of Mexico’s goals were scored with a man advantage.