MLS

Caps Corner: Whitecaps enjoying the luxury of depth

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Peter Schaad, TEAM 1040
4/4/2014 3:09:59 PM
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Like the flowers and blossoms suddenly appearing on a sunny spring day in Vancouver, the Whitecaps young guns are themselves starting to bloom. On Tuesday afternoon, a group of (don't call them reserve) players who didn't feature in the 2-1 win over Houston, took care of business against an FC Edmonton team preparing for its NASL campaign.

Throughout the afternoon, the Whitecap squad averaged a tender 20.8 years of age. That number was brought up by 26-year-old Carlyle Mitchell, and 25-year-old goalkeeper Paulo Tornaghi. Had 17-year-old Marco Carducci started in goal, the average age might have dropped into the teens.

But as they say in the game, "if you're good enough, you're old enough", and the young Caps proved it with a sterling performance going forward, scoring three goals in the first 17 minutes. They also held their nerve defensively against a big, physical Colin Miller-coached team that will be trying to join the NASL elite in 2014.

The culture of competition that Carl Robinson has built is starting to permeate through the residency program, which Gordon Forrest helps oversee in addition to his first team assistant coaching duties. That common thread, and the manager's desire to connect the entire club, is starting to bear fruit in the form of players like Marco Bustos, Kianz Froeze, Mitch Peraux, and a more recent revelation, Nicholas Prasad. The 18-year-old Surrey native stepped into an unfamiliar right back spot over his more natural centre back role, and didn't put a foot wrong in his 45 minutes of work.

It was a side that wouldn't look out of place against MLS competition, when you consider that Mitchell, Johnny Leveron, Kekuta Manneh and Eric Hurtado have all seen first team spells in their young careers.

The Whitecaps' depth will come in handy during next month's Amway Canadian Championship for the Voyageurs Cup, a competition the Whitecaps have yet to win in their MLS era. Despite a small sample size, you'd have to think Vancouver would be considered favourites to finally win it at this stage.

If they do represent Canada in CONCACAF, the club could easily send a young squad to play the group qualifying games. This would not leave their first team's regular season endeavours severely hamstrung, as we've seen from so many CCL campaigns in the past.

For now, the youngsters will have to keeping pushing and competing until the opportunity presents itself. But as in springtime, when the fruit starts to ripen, it's only a matter of time until it gets picked.

Kekuta Manneh (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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