Whitecaps FC 2 will face a late season measuring stick on Saturday when they travel to Rio Tinto Stadium and take on USL leading Real Monarchs SLC. WFC2 are coming off a loss to Cascadia rival Timbers 2 at McLeod Athletic Park and are hoping for a strong finish to cap off the 2017 season with an upset against the league's best team.
Whitecaps FC 2017 MLS SuperDraft second round pick Francis de Vries says anytime you head into a tough environment against a top club, it presents an opportunity to see where they stack up.
“It will be a good test of character in that we have been struggling for a lot of the season, and they’ve been doing really well and we’re going to play them in their home stadium. It’s a difficult location at altitude, so I think it will come down to how well we can continue to motivate ourselves intrinsically now that the external rewards are gone. How bad do you want it as a player? I think it will be a good test for that, and a good learning experience for the younger guys.”
Despite their standing in the Western Conference, Whitecaps FC 2 have continued to work hard in training and still believe they can win every time they step on the pitch. De Vries, the WFC2 leader in clearances and blocks, echoes that statement.
“We’ve been preparing in our own way this week working on our transition. It’s been a hard week so far. I definitely think we’ll be physically prepared and then over the next couple of days we’ll speak about them tactically and how we can mentally prepare ourselves and from there we’ll go in there and give it our best shot.”
18-year-old Gloire Amanda has made significant strides this season since signing with the USL club in March. The forward leads WFC2 with 25 appearances, including 11 starts in 2017. Amanda attributes his playing time to the trust the coaching staff has in his game.
“They believe in me, they believed in my quality from day one. Since Rich [Fagan] took over he’s been a coach that’s believed in me since I moved to Vancouver. He’s been my coach at U-16, U-18, and WFC2. That just shows how much confidence he has in me. All those appearances, it’s a clear indication of all the faith he has in my ability.”
Amanda has made his mark offensively when given the opportunity, sitting fourth on the team in shots on target, and tied for third in goals. Amanda and Alphonso Davies have developed a close relationship, and it’s the younger Davies who is giving Amanda advice on how to make the next step to WFC.
“He’s always told me to stay true to myself, and when the opportunity comes to make sure I take it. He’s a great kid, he knows a lot about football. He may be younger than me, but in football he’s very mature. I listen to him when he tells me stuff like that, because when you take your chances you get to where he is.”
Real Monarchs SLC
Whitecaps FC 2 really have nothing to lose when the whistle blows at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday evening. The top team in the USL, to no one’s surprise, is a well-oiled machine. The offense is led by Chandler Hoffman who’s potted 16 goals, while supplemented with Sebastian Velasquez and former WFC2 striker Daniel Haber with seven a piece.
The club has also done a good job keeping the opposition from finding the back of the net. Collectively their goalkeepers have accounted for 11 clean sheets, led by Connor Sparrow with seven. Their +27-goal differential is second to only Reno 1868 FC, while their home record of 11-1-2 is nothing scoff at. All in all it will take a full team effort for coach Fagan’s boys to pull the upset in Utah.