VANCOUVER, BC – There are essentially three categories of players who make up WFC2.
You have the young Whitecaps FC Residency graduates, working their way up through the club’s development pathway. Look no further than the local teenage trio of Matthew Baldisimo, Kadin Chung, and Thomas Gardner, who have been with the club since 2011.
You have the players signed to WFC2 contracts – the likes of Kyle Greig, Daniel Haber, Spencer Richey, and Sem de Wit. Players who have come here for an opportunity to play in a professional environment with the hopes of getting noticed by the Major League Soccer side.
And finally, you have the MLS players themselves. Twelve of them saw time with WFC2 at some point in 2016, including 2016 MLS SuperDraft pick Cole Seiler. It’s a unique makeup for a team, but Seiler said it’s one that is very much working as WFC2 prepare for Saturday’s Western Conference Final vs. Swope Park Rangers (5:30 p.m. PT on whitecapsfc.com).
“To be honest, it’s similar to a college locker room in the fact that everyone gets along really, really well,” Seiler told whitecapsfc.com this week. “There aren’t really any cliques. You feel comfortable talking to anyone. That’s the thing that amazes me most about the team.”
Seiler knows that WFC2’s main goal is to serve as a bridge between the club’s Residency program and MLS first team. He said the success of Baldisimo, Chung and Gardner is “good for the club” and “encouraging for the other kids coming through the academy.”
But WFC2 has also been vital for players like Seiler.
The 22-year-old South Carolina native has appeared in 16 matches in the USL this season, usually partnering in the middle of defence with de Wit. That’s over 1,000 minutes, including a pair of playoff matches. Not bad for his first year as a professional.
“He’s been excellent,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson, who selected Seiler at 16th overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. “He’s had a taste of MLS, and he deserved his taste, when we were probably going through a difficult period.”
“But he didn’t look out of place at all,” Robinson continued. “I think the experience of going down to WFC2, like Tim Parker in the first year … you can see his confidence growing. When he joins us in training now, he’s a very, very confident player.”
As a first-team player, Seiler said he feels a “little more responsibility to show up every day” when he’s with WFC2 and that’s what he’s been trying to do. Naturally, some days are easier than others. His goal, after all, is to play in MLS – as he’s done twice in the regular season this year.
“If you’re not hungry for that, you’ll get passed over,” Seiler said. “When you are faced with that adversity, the key is not to let that show on the field. That might be something you’re dealing with internally, but it shouldn’t affect your play.”
For that reason, among others, Seiler has embraced his time with WFC2.
He said last weekend’s 3-2 win over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Semifinal was among the biggest and most gratifying wins of his career – and that’s coming from someone who captained Georgetown to their first-ever Big East Tournament championship last year.
“I think everyone has bought in at this point,” Seiler said. “Even some of the guys who weren’t included in the 18, you can see after the game how excited they are to celebrate with us. I just think it kind of shows the sense of brotherhood that we have amongst the guys on the team.”
Seiler isn’t the first player to have talked about that brotherhood in recent weeks.
Alphonso Davies, Brett Levis, and Spencer Richey all had similar things to say in the build-up to last weekend’s historic home playoff win. This group of players has truly come together.
No matter what “category” they fall into.