One of the hot topics amongst fans at Residency games is always which players do we think can go on and become professional footballers, either with the Whitecaps MLS squad or somewhere else in the world.
That got me thinking. Who are the top prospects in the Whitecaps Residency program and how would you rank them? So looking at only the current U16s and U18s who have not signed a MLS contract, that’s what we’ve done.
We’re going to bring you a top twenty countdown of Residency talent in a special four part weekly series. The rankings are a snapshot of where the players are in their development combined with the potential they show to develop into professional footballers.
Potential is so hard to predict, as it is not an even measurable with the player’s current status. Players also develop at different times to their peers.
With that in mind, included in this review is an independent coach/scout who has seen the residency players in action on a number of occasions. This is a neutral with a lot of experience in the game, but with no connection to the Whitecaps.
We feel there is no reason any of the lower ranked or unranked players couldn’t develop into future professionals, so players, and their friends and families, should not feel disheartened or too aggrieved. This is just our personal opinions.
Now onto part one of our countdown, as we look at the Whitecaps Residency players we rank numbers 16 to 20.
20 – Sebastian Cabrera
HOMETOWN: Edmonton, Alberta
2011/12 STATS: 24 Games Played, 17 Games Started, 8 Goals
ANALYSIS: A standout on the U16 squad, Cabrera has been called to a U18 national camp and played for the U15 national team. For the Whitecaps he normally plays in a wide position, mostly on the left side, but can also be called upon to play up top. The Edmonton native has excellent pace, good distribution skills and is capable of scoring from anywhere around the eighteen yard box.
OUTLOOK: Cabrera will graduate to the U18 program where he will compete for time as an attacking midfielder.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Sebastian shows the talent to be capable of being one the elite players in the next year. Similar to Carlos Patino (below), he needs to figure out where he will play and learn tactical situations, which will come with more games at a higher level.”
19 – Carlos Patino
HOMETOWN: Edmonton, Alberta
2011/12 STATS: 26GP, 12GS, 3G
ANALYSIS: Patino started the season with the U16 program but was moved up to the U18 team midseason, where he played mostly as a substitute. An attacking midfielder, he played mostly on the right side of the midfield for the U16s but moved around on the senior side playing as a central player. In addition to having good vision and distribution skills, Patino is good in tight spaces around the box.
OUTLOOK: Patino returns to the U18 side where he will be looked to as a starter and of their top playmakers.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Good player whose next year or two will be vital in relation to does the club figure out where he should play in the system, but he has a lot of the tools.”
18 – Quinton Duncan
HOMETOWN: London, Ontario
2011/12 STATS: 25GP, 21GS, 0G
ANALYSIS: One of first U16 players to standout this season, Duncan made a couple of appearances with the Whitecaps U18 side as well as being invited to a U18 national camp in November. Physically mature for his age, the Ontario native is very strong on the ball and is excellent at making his runs up the field. As a young defender he will need to work on his defensive skills as well as making better decisions with his distribution.
OUTLOOK: Duncan will graduate to the U18 program where he looks to have first chance at the starting RB position.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Quinton played mostly at right back but can be a central defender depending where they see him better at. He’s tenacious, physical, not afraid to get stuck in and quick, but can improve technically a little bit. I’m very excited to see where he goes in the next year or two because he has a lot of the tools to succeed.”
17 – Sadi Jalali
HOMETOWN: Edmonton, Alberta
2011/12 STATS: 8GP, 7GS, 3G
ANALYSIS: A striker for the U17 Canadian World Cup squad, Jalali came to the Whitecaps late in the season but has made an impact on the U16 team. He is good on the ball and shows good instincts around the box, knowing when to distribute to his teammates and when to take the shot himself. Like many young strikers Jalali needs to continue to work on his consistency when it comes to being a clinical finisher.
OUTLOOK: Jalali will graduate to the U18 program where he will battle for a spot as a striker or winger.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Haven’t seen him too much but he is exciting to watch and is a top prospect. It’ll be interesting to see him develop in the next year or two as he gets comfortable in the program.”
16 – Declan Rodriguez
HOMETOWN: Richmond, BC
2011/12 STATS: 22GP, 17GS, 0G
ANALYSIS: The converted midfielder is still learning the right back spot but brings skills from his old position that make him dangerous going forward. Rodriguez is very dangerous attacking and can take on the opposing players 1v1 or deliver crosses into the box. As he is still learning the position he can get caught out of position, which causes him to take unnecessary fouls.
OUTLOOK: Having graduated from the Residency program, it looks as though Rodriguez has accepted a NCAA scholarship to a school in Wisconsin but nothing is confirmed.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Declan will give you everything he’s got. He has good speed, athletic ability, technical skills but isn’t excellent at any particular aspect of his game. It’s a process of educating him in his conversion, which is the main reason as to why he is not a polished fullback yet.”
Before we end part one of our countdown, we wanted to note that not every player could make the Top Twenty. Some missed out through either injury or not having seen them play enough for the Caps this season.
So we felt it was only right to have some honourable mentions in the first two parts of our countdown, for both the U16s and the U18s.
U16 Honourable Mentions
The player who just missed the cut was holding midfielder Mitch Piraux who was the starting holding midfielder for most of season, improving the speed of his play every game he played. Defender Alex Comisa, who received a national team call up, suffered a knee injury that took him out of action, slowing his development. Then there were a number of players like Mathew Chow, Liam Elbourne and Jordan Haynes who arrived after the season started, which put their development behind the others.