The Vancouver Whitecaps F.C.’s rebranded residency program will include a trio of Richmond products for the 2018-19 season which kicks off this weekend.
The Major League Soccer club announced Tuesday the full-funded program will now be known as the Whitecaps FC Academy. It is based out of the Whitecaps FC National Soccer Development Centre at UBC.
The Whitecaps U19 squad includes goalkeeper Justyn Sandhu, 16, who started in six matches with the U17 team last season. He has been with the Whitecaps since September 2014 and participated in the U15 national identification camp in 2016.
The U17 squad features 15-year-old defender Nasbeeb Bains who joined the Whitecaps a year ago after playing for Fusion F.C. of the EA Sports B.C. Soccer Premier League.
He was in the starting 11 for all 23 matches, scoring twice and helping the Whitecaps capture the U15 Northwest Division.
Forward Yayo Mutombo will be entering his first full season with the Whitecaps U15 squad after joining the academy a year earlier from Fusion F.C.
League matches in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy begin on Saturday when the 'Caps travel south to take on rivals Portland Timbers Academy. The first home matches of the season at the NSDC will take place on Saturday, Sept. 15 versus Seattle Sounders FC Academy.
In the past year, five players from the Academy ranks have signed MLS contracts with the Whitecaps FC first team, while Academy graduate Alphonso Davies was selected for the 2018 MLS All-Star Game and made an MLS record transfer to perennial German Bundesliga powerhouse FC Bayern Munich.
A total of 43 players on this season’s roster hail from B.C., accounting for 65 percent of the entire academy.
Seven players are joining the full-time Whitecaps FC Academy from the club's Regional Academy Centres across Canada — including four from Alberta and one each from centres in London, Okanagan and Saskatchewan. That’s in addition to five more out-of-province additions.
This coming December, a select group of players from the Academy, as well as players from the club's Regional Academy Centres, will travel to Spain on a sponsored trip from Adidas to train at the academy of famed Spanish club and three-time defending UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid C.F. at Real Madrid City.