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’ve delayed part three to tie in with the USSDA Finals Week, which started yesterday with a fine 4-1 victory for the Caps U18s. So now, we continue our top twenty countdown of Residency talent with a look at numbers 4 to 10.
We’ll conclude the feature with a more in-depth look at the ‘top three’ at the end of this week, as well as bringing you coverage of how the Caps U18’s do in the finals.
The rankings are a snapshot of where the players are in their development combined with the potential they show to develop into professional footballers.
10 – Marco Bustos
HOMETOWN: Winnipeg, Manitoba
2011/12 STATS (REG SEASON): 24GP, 13GS, 4G
ANALYSIS: One of the most well-known U16 players in the Whitecaps program, as Bustos is famous for his trial with Liverpool in 2010. The attacking midfielder plays a central role on the pitch where he displays excellent vision, distribution and is very dangerous when delivering the ball on set pieces. While the Manitoba native has great potential to excel in the game, like many young players he will need continue to work on his consistency.
OUTLOOK: The youngest player in our top 10, Bustos is still eligible for the U16 level but might see himself bumped up to play U18.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “An up and coming kid who is very highly skilled. Technically sound at a young age, it will be exciting to see how he develops in the next year or two with the Whitecaps.”
9 – Spencer DeBoice
HOMETOWN: Surrey, BC
2011/12 STATS: 24GP, 18GS, 7G
ANALYSIS: The most improved player on the U18 team since the beginning of the season, DeBoice has become one of the Residency’s most exciting prospects. He shows great pace on the left side of the pitch where he loves to take defenders one on one. DeBoice is developing an ability to control the ball in tight spaces on a consistent basis and has displayed a strong left foot.
OUTLOOK: DeBoice is eligible to return to the U18 team and if he returns look for the local product to start on the left side of the midfield.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Spencer is a dynamic attacking player with a solid left foot, which provides fantastic service into the box. He shows his love for the game when he plays but will need to continue to improve his decision making skills.”
8 – Carlos Marquez
HOMETOWN: Richmond, BC
2011/12 STATS: 21GP, 15GS, 8G
ANALYSIS: Marquez is a very instinctive striker who is able to find separation space when attacking in the box. He possesses a high work rate for a forward which enables him to work for the ball and convert his chances. In addition to playing striker, Marquez has the skill set to play as an attacking midfielder, centrally or on the wing.
OUTLOOK: Eligible to play for another year at the U18 level, Marquez will be looking to be the main goal scoring threat.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “He is a skilled attacking player who has a good sense for the goal. Carlos may need a little work in his link play between himself and the midfielders.”
7 – Ben McKendry
HOMETOWN: Vancouver, BC
2011/12 STATS: 25GP, 20GS, 2G
ANALYSIS: McKendry is a holding midfielder who is good on the ball and has excellent distribution ability. He is also a physical player who uses that ability in establishing his presence on the pitch. While McKendry normally plays a defensive role, he will venture forward where he shows some attacking ability.
OUTLOOK: Another graduate of the residency program, McKendry will be heading south to New Mexico of the NCAA where the Whitecaps will retain his homegrown rights.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “One of the best passers on the team, Ben is big and very cultured in the way he plays the game. Considering his size his biggest challenge will be to up his physical game and get more stuck in when tackling.”
6 – Sam Adekugbe
HOMETOWN: Calgary, Alberta
2011/12 STATS: 20GP, 20GS, 1G
ANALYSIS: The highest ranked player from outside BC, Adekugbe has played at multiple levels of the club from the U16 level to making an appearance for the Whitecaps Reserve team. He is a very athletic player with good technical skill and is able to get up the field where he delivers a good ball into the box with his left foot. In addition to playing as a full back Adekugbe has also filled in as a central defender when required.
OUTLOOK: After playing for the U16 team this year Adekugbe will be moving on to the U18 level where he looks to be a starter on the backline.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “The one player, at this point, of the U16 group that you can definitely say has a bright future in the game if he continues to develop at the pace he has so far. Sam shows composure beyond his years as he has a cultured left foot but needs to work on playing with both.”
5 – Yassin Essa
HOMETOWN: Surrey, BC
2011/12 STATS: 24GP, 16GS, 18G
ANALYSIS: Essa is a player who has taken his game to another level, especially his finishing ability, after scoring 18 goals in the regular season. He has excellent pace, is a highly technical player who displays creativity in tight spaces, and delivers a good ball going forward. The only question for the three time starter at the U17 World Cup for Canada is his consistency and his ability to handle physical play of the higher levels.
OUTLOOK: Essa will most likely return to the U18 team but may also explore professional options in North America or overseas.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Yassin is a super skilled, energetic player for the residency program who is sometimes on and sometimes off. When he’s on, Essa is a fun player who has great passion for the game but needs to be more consistent to be successful.”
4 – Brody Huitema
HOMETOWN: Chilliwack, BC
2011/12 STATS: 22GP, 21GS, 20G
ANALYSIS: The highest ranked U16 player on the list, Huitema has been a goal scoring machine for the Residency program. Physically mature for his age, he holds up the ball well and shows the ability to be a clinical finisher around the net, including being strong in the air. Huitema can create his own chances as well as having the knack to find his teammates making their runs into the box.
OUTLOOK: He will be moving on to the U18 program and has already accepted a scholarship offer from Stanford of the NCAA.
SCOUT’S TAKE: “Brody is just a physical specimen who has a lot of tools but is still young and will need to continue to become sharper around the net. He’s had huge success scoring but if you’re going to move up to higher levels, you will get less opportunities so you have to take advantage of every one you get.”
We will round of our countdown later this week, with a more in-depth look at our top three.