When the Whitecaps announced the creation of WFC2 the hope was that they it would serve as a stepping stone between the residency team and the first team. It was meant to allow for promising young players a chance to develop in a professional environment with the hope of first team minutes as incentive. So far the club’s biggest successes have been in the development of young first team players that gain experience with WFC2 on loan before returning to the MLS more seasoned and better prepared to contribute. What we haven’t seen yet in the team’s year and a half of existence is a WFC2 player earn that first team contract that they are all striving for. However with the young make up of the team and a number of highly impressive performers keying a strong start to the USL season, it may only be a matter of time before one of the 21 players under USL contracts makes the jump to the MLS. Here are your top five candidates to earn a first team contract taking into account age, performance, and organizational depth. Excluded from the list are WFC2 players with MLS contracts such as Ben McKendry, Marco Carducci, and Marco Bustos.
5. Brett Levis, LB
The 23 year-old Saskatoon native is adjusting to his new role at left back after spending the majority of his life as an attacking winger. The left footer’s position switch was inspired during his stint with the first team during training camp this past spring, which shows Carl Robinson’s interest in the lightning quick full back. Levis’ attacking ability fits the mold of Robinson’s style of play. Jordan Harvey is entrenched at the left back spot but at age 32 he won’t be around forever, and the gap between Sam Adekugbe and Levis appears to be shrinking.
4. Daniel Haber, RW
After playing the last three seasons in Europe, including last season in the Israeli second division, the 24 year-old returned to his native country with the sole intention of breaking into the MLS. The attacking winger is second on the team with three goals and has displayed a natural finishing ability that will never be ignored, especially on a team in constant need of goals such as the ‘Caps. Obviously, the MLS squad’s depth chart is stacked against Haber at the winger position, but his ability to bury chances could give him a look down the road.
3. Kyle Grieg, ST
The USL’s leading goal scorer has been garnering attention from ‘Caps supporters as his goal scoring record continues to impress. At age 26, the USL veteran is the oldest player on the WFC2 squad and was primarily acquired to provide guidance to the young team, but his proficiency playing in the number nine role could soon see him get his long awaited break. The Jamie Vardy comparisons that surfaced on Twitter in recent weeks might be a tad bit over exaggerated, but with the injury to to Masato Kudo, Blas Perez off at the Copa Americas, and Octavio Rivero continuing to struggle, Grieg’s scorching start to the season couldn’t have been timed any better.
2. Sem de Wit, CB
WFC2’s defensive turnaround has been keyed by a freshly acquired 21 year-old. The Dutch centre back most recently played in the Dutch Second Division with Fortuna Sittard before joining WFC2 where he has played every minute so far through nine games. The 6’1 de Wit has been nothing short of phenomenal for the ‘Caps, showing a keen awareness for the game but also a level of quality in possession that most North American centre backs lack. The current MLS roster appears to not have room for de Wit, but with Pa Modou Kah nearing the end of his tenure and Andrew Jacobson not being a foundational piece, Robinson could look towards de Wit to fill the centre back depth that he desires. Parker, Waston, and Cole Seiler are currently above him in the pecking order but de Wit’s strong play should have him challenging the injured Christian Dean for that fourth centre back spot on the roster.
1. Kadin Chung, RB
The full back position remains the position that managers around the world are most willing to play youngsters in, and the 17 year-old Chung has certainly played himself into the Whitecaps plans for the future. The Port Coquitlam native could provide the ‘Caps with the hometown talent that every team dreams of, and his play this season for both WFC2 and the Canadian U-20 team have made him one of the most promising teenagers that the residency team has ever produced. After getting his feet wet in the USL towards the end of last season, Chung has played a prominent role this year for the team at right back and has developed dramatically from undersized teenager, to legitimate threat down the right flank for head coach Alan Koch. the 5’9 teenager come to many people’s attention after his spectacular assist on May 4 against Tulsa, but his poise and creativity have been evident all season. At 145 pounds, Chung will have to bulk up in order to make the jump to the MLS, but the right back position seems to be the most ripe for the taking in the near future. With Fraser Aird here on loan and the disappointing Jordan Smith in front of him, the kid from Port Coquitlam could find himself challenging for an MLS contract before too long.
Image: WhitecapsFC/Bob Frid