Chris Serban

Chris Serban cashes in on his chances with WFC2

VANCOUVER, BC – Chances come few and far between in the beautiful game.

Rewarded are the few who grasp opportunities with both hands.

Last Sunday was a microcosm of Chris Serban’s story – a tale that started in Calgary as a young Romanian immigrant, and is now being told on the UBC Thunderbird Stadium pitch as a promising right back for Whitecaps FC 2.

Serban scores first pro goal in thrilling 2-2 draw with OKC 

Right around the hour-mark of a deadlock affair with OKC Energy FC, WFC2 midfielder Sahil Sandhu kept a 'Caps chance alive by getting a foot on a long throughball on the right goal line.

Already a broken play, an Energy FC defender managed to disrupt the attempted cross, but failed to put enough into the clearance.

The deflected ball bounced aimlessly in the box, unattended for a split-second, when Serban, alert and decisive, flashed from outside the corner of the box and into the scene. Before anyone could even realize the situation, Serban had done what he’s always done.

He recognized the opportunity and took it, scoring his first professional goal. 

“When you give your best in training, you should be ready for every opportunity.” - Serban

Growing up in Calgary, Serban surrounded himself with chances to work on his game at the provincial youth level and secured training trips in Spain, Germany, and Romania. Always goal-oriented, Serban used this exposure to pick from various players and coaches to add to his arsenal.
 
“When I went to these international training trips, I saw the quality of training sessions and how every player was prepared for every practice. It just inspired me to keep working hard and always do my best in training so that hopefully one day, I can get to play in stadiums in front of fans,” Serban shared. “When you give your best in training, you should be ready for every opportunity. Even when there’s no training, you have to do it on your own to stay ready.”
 
Inevitably, the training paid off and Serban was named to Canada’s U-20 men’s tour of Europe in November 2014. Given a chance as a substitute against England, he held his own in a 2-2 draw and was rewarded with starts in the other two matches, wins over Russia and the United States.
 
At this point, Serban started making a name for himself in Canadian soccer circles and earned a call-up to the national team at the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Jamaica. As a steady presence in the backline, he played every minute in all five of Canada’s matches in the tournament.
 
“I saw him perform in Jamaica and he was probably the most consistent performer on that national team,” raved WFC2 assistant coach Steve Meadley, who also oversaw Serban’s improvement with the club’s Residency team.
 
It was a natural next step for Serban when he joined Whitecaps FC Residency, a player development program designed to mould the next generation of stars in Canadian soccer. Realizing this as a chance to build his resume within the ‘Caps system, he capitalized by helping the U-18 side to a 8W-3L-4D record and put his signature on the season with a goal on the final day against Bethesda-Olney.
 
The fast-rising defender rode this momentum into the club's U-23 team, leading the ‘Caps backline that reached the USL Premier Development League playoffs.
 
“One thing with Chris is he has full commitment to the cause. When he entered with us in the U-18 level, then took that to the PDL level, and now to the USL level, he’s risen to all those challenges we’ve put in front of him,” said Meadley. “A lot of it is his mental strength and focus. Those are why he’s been able to rise to these challenges.”

Serban soon caught the eye of UBC Thunderbirds coach Mike Mosher. Not one to pass up an opportunity to further develop his game while securing university education, Serban put on a T-Birds jersey and did not skip a beat with his new team. As a rookie, he was a key figure in a UBC backline that allowed just seven goals in 12 matches. After a 9W-2L-1D season that resulted in a Canada West Final Four berth, Serban was honoured with the Lou Bilek Award as the CIS Rookie of the Year.

“From the first day I saw him as a trialist for the Whitecaps Residency, I knew he had something," Mosher said. "This is a player with a real hunger and desire to improve as a soccer player and this passion shows with how hard he works every day."

Now an important player for the inaugural WFC2 side, Serban has seized the opportunity to further hone his craft under head coach Alan Koch and to test himself against the club’s first team players in training sessions.

“It’s a great opportunity to develop, to get to train hand-in-hand with the MLS team. They’re quality players and I can learn a lot from them, and hopefully, one day, I can get there,” Serban said.

“He’s like a sponge. Everything that gets thrown at him, he just soaks it up,” Koch said approvingly. “When he first came out to the club with Residency, he developed there. He went to UBC, he was given a chance there, and he developed there. Since he’s been here with WFC2, he’s been getting better and better. His desire and application to get better is fantastic.”

Back to Thunderbird Stadium where the ‘Caps take the lead on a striker’s finish – only the finisher was actually a right back.

A right back who did not just happen to be in the right place at the right time, but one who placed himself in the right place at the right time.

It was Chris Serban, once again, grasping opportunity with both hands.

Serban and the 'Caps are back at UBC on Sunday afternoon against Real Monarchs SLC. Secure your tickets today. 

Come and see the next generation of Whitecaps FC stars as USL arrives in Vancouver. WFC2 matches are a unique and affordable experience for fans, families, students, and supporters. Season Tickets start as low as $118, with prorated prices available. Flex packs are also available to fit your schedule – get seven tickets to use any way you want, to any matches you want. For more information on all WFC2 ticket options, call 604-484-7862 or e-mail wfc2@whitecapsfc.com.

 

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