The final draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup is scheduled to take place this Friday, December 6. In the days leading up to the draw, whitecapsfc.com will recount some of Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s different World Cup connections as part of "WFC World Cup Week.”
VANCOUVER, BC – While Canada’s bid for the 2014 FIFA World Cup ended unsuccessfully on that fateful October night in Honduras, it’s been a banner year for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s development within the Canadian Soccer Association.
This year, 18-year-olds Sam Adekugbe and Jackson Farmer and 20-year-old Caleb Clarke all earned their first call-ups to Canada’s senior men's national team – now under the guidance of new head coach Benito Floro.
Fans of the first team have become quite familiar with midfielder Russell Teibert, who led the team and tied the club’s Major League Soccer record with nine assists this past season. Still only 20 years old, Teibert is one of a number of graduates from the Whitecaps FC Residency program who hope to write the future for Canada’s men’s national team.
Bustos, Carducci and Froese recount World Cup experience
In fact, six of those players were nominated for the 2013 Canada Soccer player awards earlier this week (plus Girls Elite defender Rachel Jones on the women's side).
“They are all very good players on the field and very good people off it,” Floro told whitecapsfc.com. “So because of that, they are part of my plans going forward.”
Believe it or not, five young ‘Caps actually had the chance to play in the World Cup this year – on the U-17 side, that is. That’s international experience that these young players need. In the end, they weren’t able to get a first win at the tournament for Canada, but they took another big step in their development at an age that Canadians of the past may not have.
The rise of those five ‘Caps youngsters who played at the U-17 World Cup – Marco Carducci, Marco Bustos, Kianz Froese, Matthew Chow, and Jordan Haynes – was no coincidence. Carducci comes from Calgary, Bustos and Froese from Winnipeg, Haynes from Peterborough, and Chow from right here in Vancouver. Each was scouted into the club’s academy program. Chow, in fact, played in EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League (BCSPL) for Fusion FC before joining the ‘Caps.
“I have been able to evaluate them a little bit and from what I can see, they are all good young players,” said the Spanish-born Floro. “I’ve gotten a better look at Carducci, Froese and Haynes than Chow and Bustos, but they all have solid aspects to their game.”
Whitecaps FC have the establishments in place to develop the next Teibert or a budding Adekugbe. As the previous installment of WFC World Cup week detailed on Wednesday, the club has already created Academy Centres in the Kootenays, the Okanagan, Northern British Columbia as well as Vancouver Island. Earlier this year in March, Whitecaps FC launched its first Academy outside of British Columbia, opening a centre in Saskatchewan.
The top players from the Academies are selected to move into the ‘Caps Residency program – a full-time professional development program. In each of their first two seasons in the United States Development Academy (USSDA) – the top academy league in North America – the U-18 have finished among the top eight teams out of approximately 80. That includes every other MLS club aside from Toronto FC. So clearly, there is talent being developed in Vancouver’s youth system.
As part of the Residency program, Whitecaps FC coaches are also continuing to be developed. Craig Dalrymple, Whitecaps FC manager of player performance and recruitment, has been taking part in the Elite Formation Coaching License Program with fellow MLS colleagues in partnership with the French Football Federation.
“Having academies in Canada is always going to help towards developing young players,” said Gordon Forrest, Whitecaps FC high performance head coach. “It’s a great vision from the club to work on young Canadian players to play in Whitecaps first team … and some of these players will be primed and ready for the national stage.”
So, what does this all mean for the future?
Increased scouting and daily training in a professional environment, with professional coaching, is helping young Canadian players – in greater numbers – prepare for a professional career. Competition breeds success. The best players in the region are being grouped together, and if they want to stand out and make it to the next level, they need to put in the commitment.
“Working with young players is all about being patient and making sure they’re getting the right details, information and opportunities,” Forrest told whitecapsfc.com. “There’s a lot of work to be done in that department, but it’ll be good to see more players from our Residency break through to the first team.”
With these steps in the development pyramid being put into place, they now have the resources to get to the next level, and that’s a positive step forward in getting Canada back on the soccer map.