VANCOUVER, BC - With two matches remaining in their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) regular season schedules, both Whitecaps FC Residency squads are looking to improve their place in the final standings as the playoffs approach. The two sides’ next opportunities come this Saturday, May 17, as they take on Real Salt Lake Academy teams at Perry Percy Stadium in Coquitlam, BC. Kickoff for the U-18s is set for 12:00 p.m. PT, while the U16s take the pitch at 2:30 p.m. PT.
With a record of 15W-6L-4D, the U-18 'Caps sit second in the USSDA Northwest Division and 13th overall in the league. With 19 postseason berths available, the Blue and White are firmly in a playoff spot, despite a disappointing result last week in a loss 3-2 loss to Seattle Sounders FC U-18.
The ‘Caps gave up three consecutive markers before staging a furious late game comeback on the legs of leading scorer Marco Bustos, who tallied in the 90th minute and in the second minute of stoppage time. But it was too little, too late as Vancouver fell to Sounders FC U-18.
The ‘Caps are playing only their second match at home since March 29, and their first in almost a month (April 19 against Crossfire Premier). For Vancouver, home is definitely where the heart is, as the ‘Caps have a scorching record of 9W-2L-1D while playing as the home side.
"Real Salt Lake are a great challenge for us, the top of their division,” noted Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency head coach Niall Thompson.
Not only have their 18W-3L-4D record earned RSL the top spot in the USSDA’s Southwest Division, it’s also earned them the fifth overall spot in the playoff standings.
However, despite their year-long excellence, Real Salt Lake U-18s last match proves that they still have some work to do. RSL fell 4-3 to Pateadores U-18, the sixth-ranked team in the Southwest Division and the 11th-ranked wildcard looking to get into the playoffs.
Whitecaps FC U-18 will have to do without some firepower for this match, as leading scorers Bustos, Kianz Froese, and Mitch Piraux, as well as defender Jackson Farmer and goalkeeper Nolan Wirth, are currently away on international duty at training camp with Canada's U-20 national team. Thompson looks at their absences as an opportunity members of the team: “It's a great chance to use players in different situations and an opportunity for players to learn.”
With a 14W-4L-7D record, Whitecaps FC U-16 sit first in the Northwest Division and 12th overall in the playoff standings. The younger Residency squad are coming off a bittersweet draw from last week.
Despite conceding two second half goals to finish in a 2-2 draw, head coach Rich Fagan felt his team dominated the overall flow and balance of scoring opportunities in the match. In addition, two goals from Dario Zanatta were his 20th and 21st of the season (in 22 games played), good for third overall on the goalscoring leaderboard for the USSDA.
Like their U-18 counterparts, Real Salt Lake U-16 has been excellent in the USSDA regular season, sitting first in the Southwest Division and second in the playoff standings with a 20W-3L-2D record, although, again like their older counterparts, they dropped their last match to Pateadores. RSL U-16 had won seven straight matches going into the contest with Pateadores U-16, but they couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the back of the net and fell 1-0 to the third-ranked team in their division, one that is also currently sitting outside the playoff picture in the second wildcard slot.
Despite their recent defeat, the 'Caps will certainly not be taking their opponents lightly.
"Real Salt Lake are a top team, as they score a lot of goals and don’t concede many,” Fagan told whitecapsfc.com. “Their system of play mirrors that of their first team - they will likely play a 4-4-2 diamond. We believe strongly in our own system and style of play. Our preparation has been consistent.”