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Whitecaps expanded residency program includes Delta pair

MLS team's youth development system now features 80 players from U14 & up

Two Delta players are part of the expanded Vancouver Whitecaps Residency Program which begins play in the United States Development Academy (USSDA) later this month.

Last week, 80 of the top youth players from across B.C. and Canada arrived in Vancouver to join one of the most integrated soccer development programs in North America. Aspiring players can now enter the Whitecaps FC club system full-time as early as age 11, and be nurtured in an age appropriate learning environment, with gradual steps that will help them attain a successful professional and national team career.

Earning spots in the program are Patrick Izett (1997) and Noah DaSilva (1999). Both grew up in the North Delta Soccer system and played last season with the U14 Delta Selects.

"We look forward to welcoming some of the most talented young players from across the country to Vancouver to participate in the Whitecaps FC Residency program," said Bob Lenarduzzi, Whitecaps FC president. "This program, in its fourth year, will provide an excellent training ground for our aspiring players to train and compete at a level which will ensure their continued growth."

As part of the expansion, Whitecaps FC have become the first and only Canadian club to join the USSDA - America's premier youth academy system - and will field a team in both the U15/16 and U17/18 leagues.

The Whitecaps FC Residency program begins with the U14 Pre-Academy group, featuring players U13 to U15 separated into two squads; a senior and junior team for a total player pool of 36. Players train in the evenings and attend their local schools. Exhibition matches are scheduled within the Pacific Northwest region against elite club teams, MLS academies, and other USSDA Pre-Academy teams.

This past weekend, the senior and junior U14 Pre-Academy teams travelled across the border to play a series of matches at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA.

From the U14 group, players graduate into the U16 and U18 program and play matches in their respective USSDA leagues. These teams feature 18 to 20 players per squad that train and attend Burnaby Central secondary school as part of a holistic development program.

Residency players from outside of the catchment area are housed with local billet families in Burnaby,who offer a safe, supportive environment that provides stability for the player, allowing them to focus their efforts on academic and athletic achievement

The U16 Residency group alone features nine players from Alberta, two from Manitoba and one from Ontario.

The USSDA season kicks off Sept. 17, as Whitecaps FC open against Real Salt Lake-Arizona Academy at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.

Successful Residency graduates enter the first-team development environment that includes training with the Major League Soccer (MLS) squad and competitive opportunities in both United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League and MLS Reserve League games.