Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be looking to move one step closer to capturing their first ever Academy Championship when they face LA Galaxy in the U-19 semifinals on Sunday at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri.
The match will kick off at 5:30 p.m. PT, with a live link to watch the stream available at whitecapsfc.com.
The winner will face either New York City FC or Columbus Crew SC Academy in the championship final on Tuesday, July 10 at 4:30 p.m. PT.
Here’s what you need to know.
HOW WE GOT HERE
Regular season: The ‘Caps had another strong season, finishing second in the Northwest Division. In their 32 matches, they had a record of 22W-8L-2D. Their goal difference was +54, scoring 94 times and conceding 40 times.
Playoffs: The Blue and White have been dominant in the playoffs. They swept through the group stage by outscoring New England Revolution, Crew SC Wolves, and Pateadores by a combined 11-3. They then knocked off Sockers FC 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
‘CAPS PLAYERS TO WATCH
A number of players have put in strong performances throughout the season. Here are three to keep your eyes on:
Theo Bair: A big, athletic forward. Bair has scored six goals in four playoff matches, as well as creating an own goal. This included a hat-trick in the first match versus New England. Bair also scored for Canada against Japan at the Toulon tournament last month.
Michael Baldisimo: Baldisimo is a steady two-way midfield general who helps the team dictate matches. He scored four goals for the U-19s in 25 appearances this season after playing in 12 pro matches in USL last year.
Simon Colyn: Already signed to an MLS Homegrown contract, the 16-year-old Colyn had a very productive attacking season in the academy league. He scored eight goals in 15 matches with the U-19s, adding to his 11 goals in 14 matches for the U-17s. Still young for this age group, he will be looking to put his stamp on the Academy Championship.
This will be the third time that the ‘Caps have made the Academy Championship semifinals in the U-19 (previously U-18) age group, and fourth time overall including the younger U-17s (formerly U-16s).
2012: In their first ever season in the Development Academy league, the ‘Caps made it to the final before falling 3-2 to FC Dallas.
2017: The U-16s made it to the Academy Championship semifinals for the first time in their age group, falling to eventual champions Atlanta United FC. No less than 10 players from that U-16 team are now on the current U-19 team.
A LOOK AT LA GALAXY
The Galaxy finished third in the Southwest Division behind Real Salt Lake and Pateadores. They had a record of 14W-7L-9D, and a +26 goal difference with 73 goals for and 47 goals against.
Head-to-head: The ‘Caps played the Galaxy once this season, winning 2-0 in LA on May 5 through goals from Jefferson Alade and Colyn.
Galaxy Players to Watch: Seven players have both played for the Galaxy U-19s and professionally in USL with LA Galaxy II this season: Efrain Alvarez, Taylor Davila, Jorge Hernandez, Ulysses Llanez, Ian Lonergan, Eric Lopez, and Alex Mendez.
Their star, without doubt, is the 16-year-old Alvarez who is already signed to an MLS Homegrown contract and has eight professional goals in USL to his name. The two other attacking talents to keep an eye on are Llanez, who has two professional goals and three in the academy playoffs, as well as Alex Mendez, who has four in the playoffs and scored his first pro goal last weekend.