The 2016 United Soccer League (USL) regular season kicks off this coming Saturday, March 26 when Whitecaps FC 2 visit Orange County Blues FC (7 p.m. PT, LIVE on whitecapsfc2.com). With numerous players returning from last year, in combination with a few additions to the roster, this year promises to be another exciting season for the ‘Caps. Here’s a closer look at what the team has in store for us.
Daniel Haber scored six preseason goals for WFC2
WFC2 impress in undefeated preseason
WFC2’s eight friendlies gave ‘Caps fans a glimpse of what they’re capable of.
However, the potentially most telling insights into the season come as a result of the 1-1 draw against Toronto FC II and the 2-1 victory against Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC 2.
“Obviously in preseason you want to get in a lot of matches, but you also want to try and simulate the season,” said WFC2 head coach Alan Koch. “The game against Toronto featured a lot of our younger players who put out a solid ninety minutes, and in the Seattle match we had a lot of MLS guys come in which is a large part of what our program is about.”
The regular season will bring greater intensity, however. Koch has retooled the roster with the addition of a trio of players with USL experience in recently-named captain Kyle Greig, Ontario native Giuliano Frano, and high-scoring Fatawu Safiu. Also new is Canadian striker Daniel Haber, who led the team with six goals in preseason.
Six 2015 mid-season acquisitions with full preseason
2015 marked the inaugural year for WFC2 and inevitably, it was a bit of a building year. This resulted in five players being picked up mid-season, including Terran Campbell, Kadin Chung (pictured below), and Thomas Gardner who joined the team from the Residency program last August.
“Last year we scrambled to put together a four week preseason, and this year we had a solid eight weeks,” said Koch earlier this week. “It gives us a better idea as to what we need to address and what we need to work on.”
Strength in numbers
Centre back Sem de Wit joins from the Netherlands
Professional experience is invaluable at the USL level, and that is exactly what Koch recognized in European centre back duo Elliot Green and Sem de Wit. The two defenders will contribute leadership and composure to the squad after both having played in over 50 professional matches.
In addition to the diverse new talents among the team, we still have lots to look forward to with returning WFC2 players like defender Jackson Farmer, who played over 2,000 minutes in the 2015 season, and Victor Blasco, who led the team in assists last year. Brett Levis recorded four goals, and two assists, so fans are anticipating an outstanding season from the Saskatchewan native. Another two noteworthy components are fullbacks Chris Serban and Jordan Haynes, who return to the backline and are expected to be a strong presence on the field.
Backstopping for WFC2 are Spencer Richey, who led the team in wins and clean sheets last year, and Sean Melvin, who returns to the club after spending three years playing NCAA Division I soccer for the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. 19-year-old Marco Carducci may also see time on loan again from the first team.
Rounding out the roster are midfielders and Residency products Matthew Baldisimo, Mitch Piraux, and 15-year old Alphonso Davies (pictured below), who became the youngest player in the league when he signed last February.
“We’re obviously very happy with our returning players,” he continued. “We’ve brought back a number of our Canadian guys, and then supplemented them with a great group that will hopefully fill a few voids.”
There is no question as to whether or not this squad has talent, especially when you consider the first team players that could see action.
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Ying needs yang, we look forward to witnessing the new relationships that form between the new and returning players, the rookies and the vets.
“It’s a good group, we’re excited to put them together and to gel as a team,” Koch said. “Hopefully we’ll give some good performances and earn positive results.”
This year, every Tier 1 ‘Caps Club MLS membership includes three open tickets to WFC2 matches. Members can select their matches and theme days online through Account Manager. Information on theme days is available at whitecapsfc.com/wfc2/themedays.
Youth season passes are also available for $30 all in. For more information contact email@example.com or call 604-484-7862.