Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s U-18 Residency, the eldest group of the 'Caps full-time development program, have been given a well deserved winter break after hitting the midway point of their 2013-14 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) campaign.
The U-18 squad can celebrate a solid half-season thus far, currently holding down third place in the West Conference, Northwest Division, with a 9W-3L-1D record.
The Blue and White have strung together a strong home record as well, with the squad going 6W-2L-0D. Their road form has also been formidable, as the ‘Caps currently hold a 3W-1L-1D record away from home.
The team came firing out of the gates with a five-game winning streak to open the season before tripping up and losing to West Conference, Northwest Division leaders, De Anza Force on October 5. They went on to go 3W-2L-0D in their next five matches.
The team then rolled into the prestigious 2013 USSDA Winter Showcase in Bradenton, Florida, splitting their three matches with a win, loss, and a draw in the tournament.
The U-18s began the tournament with a 4-1 defeat to Chicago Fire's U-18 Academy side in their opening match on December 11. The ‘Caps got back on track the next day with a convincing 4-0 win over tournament-host IMG Academy before ending off the event with a late equalizer by Mitch Piraux to salvage a 2-2 draw in an exciting clash with Houston Dynamo Academy on December 14.
Midfielder and Brunkild, Manitoba, native Kianz Froese currently leads the team in scoring with six goals at the halfway point, while fellow midfielder Marco Bustos is second on the team with five tallies.
The team has been a model of excellence all season, while many of the players have earned many notable national honours. Jordan Haynes, Matthew Chow, Marco Bustos, Kianz Frose, and Marco Carducci all participated in this year's 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
The Canadian Soccer Association also named Carducci the 2013 Canadian U-17 Player of the Year on December 10. This was the second straight year he captured the honour and the sixth straight year a Whitecaps FC player won the award.
In relation to this, U-18 notables Sam Adekugbe, Jackson Farmer, Nolan Wirth, and Mitch Piraux were a part of the 18-man roster for the U-18 Canadian men’s camp in Guatemala that took place from October 8 to October 14. The players in camp were all born in 1995 and will now be eligible for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, which will serve as qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Adekugbe and Farmer also earned their first call-ups to Canada’s senior men's national team – now under the guidance of new head coach Benito Floro.
The U-18 Residency squad has had quite the year, and head coach Gordon Forrest is excited to get back to work after the much needed break.
“It's been a very busy year for the U-18s in terms of the training schedule, USSDA fixtures, and also the national team camps and competitions,” Forrest told whitecapsfc.com. “We are pleased and proud of the players to date and we can now come back fresh from a short break and push on with the second half of the season.”
The U-18 side will return to action on January 11 against Cascadia rival Portland Timbers’ youth academy side at the Timbers Training Facility.