Simon Colyn family photo
Justin Pelletier/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

From the stands at Empire to Major League Soccer: Colyn continues 'Caps journey

VANCOUVER, BC – Simon Colyn was in the stands on March 19, 2011, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC kicked off their inaugural Major League Soccer season at Empire Stadium.

He was only eight years old at the time.

And like many young kids in the building on that memorable afternoon, Colyn hoped that one day he’d be able to suit up for his hometown club. For most kids, it would have been nothing more than a dream. But for Colyn, that dream just became a little closer to reality.

Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that the club has signed Colyn to a multi-year MLS Homegrown contract. The Langley native, who just turned 16 last month, is the second youngest player to sign for Whitecaps FC in the MLS era and the youngest player on the active roster.

“When I was younger, I would always watch the games and go to them with my family,” Colyn said. “When I got the opportunity to join the Residency of this club, I was very excited. Since then, it’s been very enjoyable. I’ve made my steps up the ladder, and here I am on the first team, but it’s only the beginning. I need to prove myself. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m ready to do that.”

After coming through the ranks with Langley United YSA and Surrey United SC, Colyn joined the Whitecaps FC Residency program in August 2016.

He has been impressing the club’s coaches ever since.

Initially, Colyn was a member of the club’s U-15 side coached by Robert Earnshaw, who alerted Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson to the youngster’s potential. And now that the Residency teams are based out of the same building as the MLS side, it became much easier for Robinson and his staff to watch Colyn up close and personal.

Clearly, they liked what they saw.

“I see something in him that I don’t see in many young players,” Robinson said. “He’s got an awareness and an ability to find space. If you look at my first team group, I think Yordy Reyna is a perfect example of someone who gets into positions to cause the opposition problems. Simon, for someone so young, is able to do that and he does it naturally.”

Colyn also singled out Reyna as a player he tries to emulate.

“He’s a player that moves quickly, finds spaces, does quick little touches, and catches opposition off guard a lot of times,” Colyn said. “That’s something I can learn from.”

So far this season, the 5-foot-9 attacking midfielder has 10 goals in 15 appearances with the ‘Caps U-17s, as well as five goals in six appearances for the U-19s. By his own account, however, he’s a player who likes to set up goals for his teammates more than scoring them himself.

And that’s something he was able to do in his first-team debut this past preseason, playing a one-two with Alphonso Davies to set up Bernie Ibini vs. J1 League side Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

“The moment Simon came into the first team group in preseason, he showed an enthusiasm, I saw the quality he had, and he showed no fear as well,” Robinson said. “His work ethic is spot on, his temperament his spot on, and he’s very clean in what he does on the technical side. There are other areas he needs to improve on, and we will work with him on that, but we felt that with his age and his ability to learn so quickly, it was the right time to bring him in.”

Now, Robinson said “it will be down to Simon.” The youngster will still play in games at the Residency level but he’ll also continue to be integrated with the first-team training group and possibly get some minutes in the Canadian Championship this summer.

“We won’t throw him in when he’s not ready,” Robinson said. “We will throw him in when he is ready. The hard work starts now.”

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