It’s academy playoff time!
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 and U-16 Residency teams are back in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) postseason after both winning their respective Northwest Division titles. This year’s playoffs take place at the Toyota Soccer Center in Dallas, starting on Wednesday.
Wednesday, June 22
3:00 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-16 vs. Kendall SC U-16
5:30 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-18 vs. Chargers SC U-18
Friday, June 24
3:00 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-16 vs. Real Salt Lake AZ U-16
5:30 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-18 vs. Vardar U-18
Sunday, June 26
3:00 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-16 vs. Philadelphia Union U-16
5:30 p.m. PT: Whitecaps FC U-18 vs. LA Galaxy U-18
So what do you need to know before the tournament starts?
WHO ARE WHITECAPS FC RESIDENCY?
In short, the Whitecaps FC Residency program develops talented young Canadian soccer players for the club’s professional teams and Canadian men’s national teams. The program feeds directly into the Whitecaps FC first team in MLS and WFC2 in USL.
There are currently 17 players from the Residency program playing pro soccer with Whitecaps FC – six in MLS and 11 in USL. More than 40 Residency players have been called up to Canadian national teams in the past year alone.
The current crop of U-18 and U-16 players represent four provinces:
- British Columbia (34 players)
- Alberta (4 players)
- Ontario (4 players)
- Manitoba (3 players)
Saskatchewan will be added to that list next season, and it could grow further with the club now having academy centres in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island.
WHAT IS THE USSDA?
The United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) is the top youth soccer league in North America. There are 74 clubs at the U-18 and U-16 levels, including every MLS club except for Toronto FC and New York City FC.
Teams are split into seven divisions across the Central, East, and West conferences. Teams play for the most part within their division, with select matches against teams in the other divisions within their conference, as well as showcase tournaments against teams from other conferences during the season.
The ‘Caps play in the Northwest Division against MLS rivals Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC, and San Jose Earthquakes, as well as USL rivals Sacramento Republic FC. Also in their division are top academy sides from Crossfire Premier (Kirkland, Washington), De Anza Force (Saratoga, California), Juventus Sport Club (Redwood City, California), and Santa Cruz Breakers (Aptos, California).
This year, both Whitecaps FC U-18 and U-16 teams won their Northwest Division titles.
HOW DO THE PLAYOFFS WORK?
Teams are then split into four tiers and drawn into one of eight groups. Both ‘Caps squads were in the top tier and are thus the top ranked teams in their groups. Both were drawn into Group A in their respective age groups.
Group A (U-18)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Chargers SC (Clearwater, Florida)
Vardar (Rochester Hills, Michigan)
Group A (U-16)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Real Salt Lake
Kendall SC (Miami, Florida)
Matches are played this coming Wednesday, June 22 through Sunday, June 26.
Only the group winner advances. Once the eight group winners are decided, the top four ranked teams will host quarterfinal matches on July 6 (U-16) and July 7 (U-18).
The winners of the quarterfinals will then advance to the national semifinals, then final, which will both be played at the StubHub Center (home of the LA Galaxy) in Carson, California on July 14 (semifinals) and 16 (final).
WHAT IS THE ‘CAPS HISTORY IN THE USSDA PLAYOFFS?
Whitecaps FC U-18s have made the playoffs all five years in the USSDA, winning the Northwest Division three times. The U-16s have won the Northwest Division four of five years, and missed the playoffs only once.
The longest run for a ‘Caps side in the Academy Playoffs came in the club’s first season in the USSDA when the U-18 team made it all the way to the championship final in 2012 before falling 3-2 to FC Dallas.
The U-16s had their best run last year when they won their playoff group, then had the opportunity to host a quarterfinal match at home. With MLS head coach Carl Robinson on hand to watch at SFU, the ‘Caps ultimately fell in penalty kicks to Georgia United.
However from that game, four players were signed to pro contracts with Whitecaps FC: Matthew Baldisimo, Terran Campbell, Kadin Chung, and Thomas Gardner. And on the other side, Georgia’s Andrew Carleton was recently signed as the first Homegrown player by MLS expansion club Atlanta United. So needless to say, there is exciting talent to keep your eyes on.
Terran Campbell: The Burnaby native is already signed to a pro contract with WFC2 and has made five substitute appearances in USL this season after debuting at the end of last year. But in addition to his young pro career, Campbell has led the way for the U-18s with 16 goals in 27 games played. He’s strong and quick, and should cause problems for opponents in these playoffs.
Gloire Amanda: The Edmonton native still has one more year with the U-18s next season. He’s made great contributions this year, scoring 14 goals in 27 appearances. He’ll be counted on to help bring the ‘Caps attack to life.
Alan Camacho: Not only did Camacho lead the U-16s in scoring, he led the entire USSDA with 29 goals scored in 31 games. It’s an impressive strike rate for the 16-year-old who was born just outside of Guadalajara, Mexico and received his Canadian citizenship two weeks ago. His coaches call him a natural goalscorer, and one of the hardest working players in the program.
Theo Bair: While much of the opponent’s attention will be on Camacho, the ‘Caps did have another double digit goalscorer in Ottawa’s Theo Bair. One of the taller players on the pitch, Bair is a powerful player who has proven that he can play both out wide or as a target player.