Training Notes: Recap of the Last Busy Vancouver Whitecaps Week

Spring is in full swing and while things are getting tough in BC right now, it looks (unlike last year) the Vancouver Whitecaps have chosen the perfect time to head south.

The Whitecaps begin their preseason later today, and the regular season is just a few weeks away. Needless to say, things are getting serious. With that in mind, I’m going to clear my notebook with all the thoughts I had from the last week of Vancouver Whitecaps training camp in Vancouver.

Moving

I don’t want to talk too much about the COVID situation and the team’s move to Utah, but I think it’s worth pointing out that this move will be very different from the two temporary homes the Whitecaps set up in 2020.

In Orlando and Portland, the team and staff were almost exclusively confined to a few floors of a hotel: in Orlando it was in a resort, and in Portland it was downtown amid protests too. important than those of the whole country.

Utah will be very different. The Whitecaps are mainly housed in a cluster of new apartment buildings fitted out by the club, but players also had the option of finding their own accommodation (obviously under certain restrictions and guidelines). Importantly, some players and staff also brought their families.

In terms of quality of life, it looks like the setup in Utah will be much closer to what “normal” life in Vancouver would look like. In fact, with the increase in the number of vaccinations in Utah, as well as the likelihood that the Whitecaps bubble will be vaccinated in the United States, life may be easier in Utah than it would have been. here.

Deiber dancing

Last Wednesday marked Deiber Caicedo’s first day at training camp. With all visa issues resolved and the quarantine periods scrupulously observed, he wasted no time making a good impression on the training ground.

Having had the opportunity to see him in person, what really stood out to me was Deiber’s explosiveness, especially when it comes to the speed of the short zone and the change of direction. He might not just hit defenders with his great speed (like Alphonso Davies), but he’s more than capable of slipping through defenders’ fingers with his collection of swings, stutters and jumps.

Caicedo confronts Jake Nerwinski
Samuel rowan

Its finishing ability also impressed. Some of the scouting reports on Caicedo described him as raw talent in terms of technique and finishing, but he showed no signs of weakness in that area in his opening sessions. His technique was solid and he seemed to favor placement over power, which is far more effective than many players think.

It was only a few sessions, but I’m already excited about the possibilities of a front three of Dajome, Cavallini and Caicedo.

Youth uprising

Maybe it was out of necessity rather than choice, but the Vancouver Whitecaps had a youth movement during this training camp. With so many Canadians on international missions, just about every academy prospect available has had the opportunity to train with the first team this preseason.

For some players it was an opportunity to show they were ready for a higher level, but for others it was a test by fire. I remember in particular a streak from Wednesday’s training session where Janio Bikel and Leo Owusu made crushing tackles on academy midfielders seconds apart. After that, the youngsters seemed a little less excited about the 50/50 the rest of this scrum, it was a real “welcome to the pros” moment.

It wasn’t all struggles though. He is under contract with the first team, but Gianfranco Facchineri is still only 18 and he looked very comfortable in this last week of sessions. After impressing last year during a stint with Atlético Ottawa, he could be poised to play an important role for Vancouver this year, especially with Jasser Khmiri on loan.

Other notable players were Kamron Habibullah and Keishean Francois, both with the Utah Whitecaps. Habibullah comes with a significant amount of hype around him, and is likely to secure a first-team contract soon, while Francois was the pleasant surprise of the camp for me. He is just 17 and joined the Whitecaps academy in 2019, but nevertheless seemed fairly comfortable among the early mates and played in a variety of wide positions during the sessions. He’s definitely the kind of Whitecaps player who would benefit from the proposed MLS U23 league, or CPL loan, in the years to come.

“I want to see my lawyer”

Despite criticism, the Whitecaps insist they don’t need better immigration lawyers. In fact, they say they use the exact same legal team as Toronto FC. So why has the club run into so many problems trying to bring players to the country?

On the one hand, these are the countries from which they come. While the Colombian players have been tough, someone like Janio Bikel, who has a Portuguese passport, took just a few days at the start of last season. Often the Whitecaps just haven’t chosen countries with easy immigration processes – is this something they should consider? May be. But in the end, you have to find the right players for your squad, even if they come from a country where the process is a little longer.

What further complicates matters is the need for a Canadian and US work visa, especially in times of COVID. Caio Alexandre, for example, from Brazil, presents a tall order as his home country is currently ravaged by the P1 variant. Bruno Gaspar is Portuguese, as is Bikel, but obviously the process has become more complicated since early 2020. Javain Brown and David Egbo both had to make the switch from student visa to work visa: which seems to be much more complicated than we don’t think so. (Egbo has yet to arrive in Utah). Depending on the country and the circumstances, Canadian and American immigration offices sometimes take different positions on the countries of origin, which makes things even more difficult.

I’m not saying the Whitecaps get a free pass here, but you have to keep in mind that there are a lot of factors involved. Yes, it’s going to be frustrating for the Whitecaps not to have all of their acquisitions. offseason available for opening day but if that’s any consolation the Whitecaps aren’t alone, other teams have been experiencing similar issues.

Both sides of the coin

It would have been nice if the Canadian U23s had been in the Olympics, but in some ways I’m pretty happy with the end result of the qualifying tournament. Failure to qualify means Theo Bair, Patrick Metcalfe, Michael Baldisimo and Ryan Raposo can enjoy full seasons of club football.

For Bair and Baldi that means more playing time with the VWFC, while for Raposo and Metcalfe it depends a lot on how the club thinks about his depth at those spots. I would be in favor of both going on loan, as it would probably be best for their personal development, but with a limited schedule and absences for World Cup qualifying, the club could be very keen to keep these two. the.

All you have to do is listen to Marc Dos Santos’ answer on whether or not Jake Nerwinski was a substitute to get a sense of what he thinks about the importance of depth this season (hint, he think it’s really important). Dos Santos doesn’t feel like getting burned by his lack of depth (like the club did last year), although that might not be the best thing for some of these looking youngsters. of consistent minutes.

“Load management”

Vancouver’s two starting caliber center-backs at camp looked less than 100 percent, so it’s definitely something to watch out for in preseason clashes.

Along with Erik Godoy, he was a full participant in training last Tuesday, but only appeared in the gym on Wednesday and was nowhere to be found, at least as I saw him on Thursday. When I inquired, I was told that Godoy had a slight problem, but the medical staff weren’t too concerned about it. Normally that wouldn’t sound too much of a wake-up call, but Godoy has faced some lingering muscle issues since he’s been in Vancouver so I can’t help but worry that this is something that may linger all through. along the early stages of the season.

As for Ranko Veselinovic, he was more active on the training ground, but was not a full participant in all the training sessions, often breaking away from the group for conditioning races as the others prepared for. scrums or 8v8 work. He looked sharp on Thursday as he did 1v1 drills against academy players, but if I’m being honest he never really had the air to go thoroughly.

Form matters, especially getting started early in the regular season, so I’d be shocked if Derek Cornelius didn’t start on opening day. (Update: With Cornelius’ injury in the Olympic playoffs looking a lot worse than initially expected, I’m changing this take).

As mentioned earlier, the CB depth looks a bit thin without Jasser Khmiri on the roster, so if one of them ends up running out of time, Facchineri could be called out sooner rather than later.

That concludes my thoughts on the last week of training camp in Vancouver. If you have any comments or questions, be sure to leave them below! Be sure to also check out our YouTube pre-season roundtable series!


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