In, Out, On The Bubble: 2017 USL edition

In, Out, On The Bubble: 2017 USL edition

Last Sunday we ran our 2017 In, Out, On The Bubble feature looking at players in the MLS squad and their potential futures.

With WFC2 being shut down and the Whitecaps affiliating with new USL side Fresno FC from the 2018 season, we turn our attention to those players signed to USL deals with the ‘Caps this year.

With no official announcement yet made, but imminent now that the USL season wrapped up yesterday, it’s a little tricky because we know some players have been offered MLS deal, some have been offered USL deals, and some have been told they are free agents. What we don’t yet know is who has accepted the deals offered.

So with that in mind, we’re doing the ”In, Out, On The Bubble” analysis partly based on what we’ve heard and party based on what we’d like to see. We’ve also just gone for four simple positional categories for this one, picking the main one that each player is best known for.

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GOALKEEPERS

IN: SEAN MELVIN
OUT: MARK VILLAGE

The ‘Caps, and first team goalkeeping coach Stewart Kerr in particular, have spoken very highly of Melvin this season and how much his game has come on. With David Ousted now confirmed to be moving on, it’s hard not to see Melvin getting a MLS deal as the third keeper, then sent to Fresno on a season long loan.

It was great to see Village get his first professional start in the penultimate USL game of the season, winning ‘Save of the Week’ in the process. Deserved reward for a keeper that’s been part of WFC2 from the start. Village is a goalkeeper coach with the Residency, so will be staying in Vancouver, end his role as part of the playing squad.

DEFENDERS

IN: DEKLAN WYNNE
BUBBLE: DANNY BARBIR, KADIN CHUNG, FRANCIS DE VRIES
OUT: CHRIS SERBAN, ANDY THOMA, DOMINICK ZATOR

As we talked about on the November 5th AFTN Soccer Show, Wynne has been offered a MLS deal. Whether he has accepted it or not, we don’t know, and it’s tough to see where the left back fits into the MLS squad if Marcel De Jong and Brett Levis are both fit, healthy, and still on the team. He is versatile though and can also play in the midfield. As a key part of the New Zealand international team in their push for the World Cup, the ‘Caps had to offer Wynne a deal. His stock and potential is too high to let him go and I’m a big fan of what he brings to the team.

Thoma and Zator should both be certainties to move on. Serban probably so, although I still like what the versatile full back offers the team. The latter two will most certainly find a place in the Canadian Premier League when it launches, if they want to, but neither are going to make the jump to MLS, so ‘Caps need to move them on now.

I have Barbir and De Vries on the bubble. We never really saw enough from either of them, especially recent addition Barbir, to say they’re going to have the potential to make the jump to MLS down the road. Does that mean letting them go now? I’m prepared to give both another season, in a new environment, to prove their worth. Barbir has the build that could definitely make the grade and impressed more of the pair, but very small sample size.

As we also mentioned on the AFTN Soccer Show, our understanding is that Chung has been offered a USL deal to go to Fresno, but we’ve been told he’s asked for his release and is keen to explore options in Germany. For now, we’re putting him on the bubble, but can certainly see him leaving.

MIDFIELDERS

IN: MATTHEW BALDISIMO, MICHAEL BALDISIMO, DAVID NORMAN
BUBBLE: WILL SEYMORE
OUT: THOMAS GARDNER, PATRICK METCALFE

With the turnover on the first team squad, and Robbo continuing to talk about getting the squad younger, we fully expect to see David Norman get offered a MLS deal this offseason, taking Ben McKendry’s place on the roster. And he deserves it. Our USL Player of the Year, Norman took a few matches to find his feet after his year at college, but then really came into his own and made the team tick. He definitely has what it takes to make the breakthrough into regular first team minutes, but will likely spend some time in Fresno too.

The Baldisimo brothers should be no-brainers to get offered new USL deals. But will they take them? Will they want to leave their family and go to Fresno? Both are huge talents and should be part of the Whitecaps midfield for years to come. I love me some hard tacklers, and those pair, plus Norman, bring just that. If they were to end up leaving the club, that’s a huge loss and would be the first indictment of moving the team from the lower mainland. We think they’re here to stay though.

Will Seymore is just the kind of USL player a club like Fresno needs. Experienced, reliable, versatile, and a leader. I would dearly love to see him stick around. He’s had limited minutes due to the ‘6 Canadians’ rule and may decide that he wants a fresh start, or the club may decide that for him.

Metcalfe has already got his release and joined UBC Thunderbirds, playing a couple of games towards the end of the college season, winning a Canada West Championship, and playing at last week’s U Sports nationals. Gardner looks set to join him in the college ranks next season, turning down a chance to play in Fresno. Sad to see a player who has been part of the Whitecaps since the Prospects program in 2007 move on, but we feel that the college route is the far better one for him.

FORWARDS

IN: GLOIRE AMANDA, MYER BEVAN, TERRAN CAMPBELL
BUBBLE: NAZEEM BARTMAN
OUT: THOMAS SANNER

Like his Kiwi counterpart, Bevan has been offered a MLS deal, and will take Kyle Greig’s place on the first team roster. It’s certainly an upgrade on Greig, who went out on loan to FC Cincinnati in the summer, but failed to impress there. He knows his way to goal and with only Erik Hurtado looking likely to be back in the striker’s department next season, he has a great opportunity to establish himself as a regular in the first team gameday 18.

Amanda has a bright future ahead of him with the club. There’s no way he’s not heading to Fresno. He had a fantastic first season as a pro and already doesn’t look out of place in USL. Looking forward to seeing what he can do in his second year and how he’ll grow in the challenging new environment.

I expect to see him joined there by Campbell, who didn’t quite make the breakthrough I’d hope to see from him this past season, but is a talent the ‘Caps will want to continue developing.

After some visa issues, Bartman joined WFC2 a few weeks into the season after picked up in the MLS SuperDraft. It could him a few weeks to get up to match fitness and he was just starting to show the attacking danger he showed in college before injury struck and ruled him out for the rest of the season. He’s a clear goalscoring talent. I’d like to see him given another look, but his South African status may go against him.

Sanner is a striker who can get goals but his football IQ lets him down and he didn’t look good in USL for much of the season. He’ll likely move on and should find himself at another USL club somewhere. Great guy and we wish him all the best, but not what the ‘Caps are looking for moving forward (pun intended!).

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Authored by: Michael McColl

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