The Canadian Kids

The Canadian kids: Robinson vows to give young Canadians opportunities in Canadian Championship

VANCOUVER, BC Last week, as Vancouver Whitecaps FC celebrated the 40th anniversary of their first-ever match, we looked back on the past. 

Now, we get a glimpse into the future. 

The ‘Caps are set to kick off the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal on Wednesday, when they meet Toronto FC at BMO Field.

A number of Whitecaps FC’s up and coming young Canadians, both from the Major League Soccer roster and the club’s Residency program, made the trip to Toronto and could see time at some point during the Amway Canadian Championship – possibly as early as Wednesday.

“It’s a Canadian Championship. I want to give my Canadian players opportunities,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters earlier this week. “I know what it means to them … and [the competition] is very important for the club as well.” 

There are a total of eight Canadian players on Whitecaps FC’s preliminary roster for Wednesday’s match (more than any other MLS club in the competition) and each of them have come through the club’s Residency program. In fact, four of them are current Residency players – teams can play up to six Canadian academy players in the Canadian Championship even if they're not signed to MLS contracts. 

With the help of Whitecaps FC assistant coach Gordon Forrest, who coached most of these players at the Residency level, we introduce you to the "Canadian kids" below. 

Calgary, Alberta
Age: 19
Position: Left back

Profile: One of the most recognizable names of the bunch, Adekugbe became Whitecaps FC’s first Homegrown defender in August 2013 after spending two seasons with the club’s Residency program. The 5-foot-9 left back earned his first call-up to the Canadian senior men’s national team last year and made his MLS debut in Vancouver’s regular season finale against Colorado Rapids. Before moving to his current hometown of Calgary, Alberta, Adekugbe played youth soccer in his native Manchester, England. Adekugbe will not be available on Wednesday due to a knee injury, but he’ll definitely be a player to watch in the coming years.

Forrest: “Sam is an attacking fullback that fits into the club’s playing style. He’s quick, he’s good in possession, and has good delivery. It’s unfortunate that he’ll miss out on this game due to injury but he has a real bright future ahead within the club.”

Kitchener, Ontario
Age: 20
Position: Midfielder

Profile: Alderson, a two-time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year, joined Vancouver’s MLS roster in November 2011 after spending two seasons with the club’s Residency program. The Kitchener, Ontario native has yet to appear for the first team, though he made 14 appearances on loan with United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO side Charleston Battery last season. Also of note, Alderson captained Canada at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Forrest said he sees Alderson as a holding midfielder with playmaking abilities.

Forrest: “Bryce has been unfortunate with his injuries but he’s done very well to work hard and get where he is. Bryce is technically one of the best players in and around the environment as well. He has a good left foot and he deserves this MLS opportunity to show what he can do.”

Winnipeg, Manitoba
Age: 18
Position: Midfielder

Profile: Bustos has been a force for Whitecaps FC’s U-18 Residency team this season, scoring a team-high 14 goals in 19 appearances. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native, who is a regular at Whitecaps FC first-team training sessions, represented Canada at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup and was named Whitecaps FC’s Most Promising Player in 2013. Robinson said on Monday that Bustos would likely see some minutes on Wednesday.

Forrest: “Marco is an exciting, exciting player to watch. He’s a left-footed player that sits in a forward role as a number 10 or in a wider area. He fits well into the playing style and model we’re trying to achieve at the club, in that he’s a technically good player and a good character as well. That’s one of the biggest things about Marco. He’s a good character in and around the Residency but also the first-team environment as well.”

Calgary, Alberta
Age: 17
Position: Goalkeeper

Profile: At 17 years old, Carducci is the youngest player on Vancouver’s MLS roster. The Calgary native, who became Whitecaps FC’s first Homegrown goalkeeper signing in March, is a two-time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year. Carducci captained Canada at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup, started each of their three matches, and was named the player of the match in a 2-2 draw with Austria. The 6-foot-1 goalkeeper allowed just two goals in four appearances with Whitecaps FC’s MLS side in the 2014 preseason. Robinson confirmed earlier this week that Carducci would start on Wednesday.

Forrest: “Marco has a great temperament for his age. He’s very level-headed, very focused, and from a goalkeeping point of view he’s nice and calm. He’s probably one of the most professional young kids that I’ve ever come across.”

Edmonton, Alberta
Age: 19
Defender: Centre back

Profile: Farmer joined Whitecaps FC Residency in 2011 and has been a standout ever since. The Edmonton, Alberta native wore the captain’s armband for the U-18s last season, starting each of his 33 appearances. He also earned his first cap with the Canadian senior men’s national team in 2013. More recently, Farmer made his professional debut with Whitecaps FC’s USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery, starting three of his four appearances this season. The 6-foot-2 defender was also used as a right back with the Battery.

Forrest: “Jackson is a great kid who has done well at the national level, obviously getting the men’s national team call-ups. We see him as a centre back and he’s very good in possession for a centre back as well.”

Brunkild, Manitoba
Age: 18
Defender: Midfielder/striker

Profile: Froese has been one of Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency’s most dangerous offensive players this season, scoring 11 goals in 17 appearances. Born in Havana, Cuba, Froese went back and forth between his home country and Manitoba as a young child. He made his debut with the Canadian youth national team last year, when he represented Canada at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Since then, he’s earned a pair of call-ups to the Canadian senior men’s national team.  

Forrest: “Kianz is a very powerful and strong player. He’s physically developed and ready to get an opportunity. He’s technically good, very focused on being a young professional, and he fits into our playing style as well.”

Peterborough, Ontario
Age: 18
Position: Defender/midfielder

Profile: Wednesday’s match will be a homecoming of sorts for Haynes, a former Toronto FC Academy player who spent his entire youth career in Ontario. Haynes, who joined Whitecaps FC’s Residency program in 2011, has shown his versatility with the ‘Caps and the Canadian U-17 national team by playing as a left back, winger, and striker. The Peterborough, Ontario native scored the game-tying goal against Honduras in the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship semifinal and represented the Red and White at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Forrest: “Jordan has a great attitude, lots of energy and enthusiasm in training and especially on matchday. He’s a very committed young player. He always gives 100 per cent when he’s on the field.”

Calgary, Alberta
Age: 19
Position: Midfielder

Profile: Piraux, who joined Whitecaps FC Residency in 2011 after moving on from Calgary Foothills Rapids, has quietly become one of the most reliable players for the U-18s this season. The Calgary, Alberta native has scored five goals while starting 21 of his 22 USSDA appearances this season, and has also impressed in Reserve action with the MLS team. Piraux has represented Canada at the U-18 and U-15 levels.

Forrest: “Mitch is a quiet lad but effective on the field. He just goes about his job and gets things done. He’s another deeper midfield player who has a strong understanding of the game and is a good passer of the ball. He’s done very well.”

Niagara Falls, Ontario
Age: 21
Position: Midfielder

Profile: Does he even need an introduction? Teibert is the headliner of the group after spending the last four seasons with Vancouver’s MLS side. The Niagara Falls, Ontario native, who joined Whitecaps FC’s Residency program in its second year of existence, has made 46 MLS appearances with the ‘Caps. Last year, he led the team with nine assists and scored his first two professional goals. The 5-foot-8 midfielder has also earned seven caps with the Canadian senior men’s national team and is a two-time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year.

Forrest: “From our point of view, he’s an ambassador to the Residency program and someone the younger ones can look up to. He’s shown what you can achieve in the system and at the club, being a young Canadian coming through and playing in the first team. He’s very, very professional. He works really hard both on and off the field. He’s just a really good role model.”

* Current Whitecaps FC U-18/U-23 player

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