One look at the talent coming through the ranks of the Vancouver Whitecaps' youth system would suggest that the Tri-Cities are veritable treasure trove of soccer talent.
The pro soccer club released the names Wednesday of players who will make up its youth residency sides in a series of age groupings ranging from 13 to 18, and those lists are chalked full of local soccer players from the Coquitlam Metro-Ford ranks in particular.
"We are very excited to start a new year for our player development programs," said Stuart Neely, Whitecaps FC head of high performance, in a press release. "Whitecaps FC are an ambitious club, from our residency program to our first team. With a new crop of players come new challenges to conquer, and it is our full intent to continue to set the bar higher than we did the year before."
Split into two tiers, pre-residency and residency, the programs are aimed at highlevel athletes in an attempt to groom them into future pros. The pre-residency program includes the under-13, 14, and 15 teams, while the residency program goes from u-16 to u-18.
The u-18 squad will see the addition of a trio of Coquitlam Metro Ford products in goalie Matthew Van der Eyden and forwards Titouan Chopin and Brody Huitema.
The u-16 club will include fellow Metro-Ford players Olamide Ajibike and Evan Libke, both of whom play defence, alongside midfielder Marcello Polisi and forward A.J. Lopez.
The u-15 team will be bolstered by Port Coquitlam netminder Austin Cho, who's previous club team was the North Fraser Selects, and Metro-Ford forwards Kadin Chung, Erik Morden and Cole Morokhovich. The midfield tandem of Matteo Polisi and David Norman will be flanked by goalie Luciano Trasolini and Samuel Lee to round out the local flavour on the u-15 squad.
Defenders Terrell Smith and Christopher Guerreiro will join the u-14 team along with forward Nicolas Apostol and keeper Cole Kiez.
Four Metro-Ford players will join the u-13 side, including Trevor Zanatta, Trevor Schneider, Nikolas Papakyriakopoulos and Alessandro Hojabrpour. Port Moody's Nikolas White, who previously suited up with Surrey United, will also join the pre-residency team.
Both the u-16 and u-18 teams begin their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) season on Saturday, Sept. 8, when the clubs travel to Orange County, Calif. for a doubleheader against Northwest division rivals Pateadores. The following day, the 'Caps head to Orange County to take on Strikers FC.
The pre-residency teams will fill their time with friendlies and exhibition contests against local clubs, including matches against teams from the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League, Major League Soccer academies, and other USSDA pre-academy teams.