Photo courtesy Bob Frid / Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
After advancing to the USL Western Conference Final in 2016, hopes were high for Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 coming into 2017 with a solid returning group of young standouts. Unfortunately for WFC2 those hopes fell well short, with new Head Coach Rich Fagan unable to get his team to a second successive USL Cup Playoffs.
WFC2 had a big drop in 2017, winning just five matches, the lowest tally in club history, falling to 18 losses. The side as a whole struggled in front of goal, only finding the net 32 times, the second lowest in the Western Conference. WFC2 was rarely completely blown out of any game, keeping things close throughout the season but it wasn't enough to get the wins needed to make a serious playoff push.
Record: 5-18-9, 24pts
Place: 14th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 32
Goals Against: 52
USL Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
2017 leaders: Marco Bustos (8 goals), Terran Campbell, David Norman (3 assists), Spencer Richey (55 saves)
Yet again WFC2 was a strong proving ground for young Canadian talent, with 21 year-old Marco Bustos leading the team in scoring, earning a place on the provisional Canadian squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The New Zealand contingent of Francis de Vries, Myer Bevan, and Deklan Wynne also impressed, with both Bevan and Wynne earning call ups for the All Whites in their World Cup qualifying campaign from their impressive performances. A standout at the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2017, Bevan will be one to watch in the future, too, after joining Vancouver's MLS squad for the new campaign in 2018.
WFC2's lack of victories was caused at its root by the lack of goal production, which saw the club score 12 fewer goals than when it earned a place in the postseason in 2016. The departure of Daniel Haber and Kyle Greig played a role in that drop, but the bigger factor was the side's inability to create enough chances over the year. WFC2 was held scoreless nine times in the season, scoring the fifth-fewest goals of any team in USL. The poor scoring was not due to wayward shooting, with a 51.1 percent shooting-accuracy rate, the fifth-highest in USL, but there were just not enough shots, with the team's 346 total shots standing as the sixth-fewest in the league.
Some slick passing in from the left flank against Reno 1868 FC saw the ball be flicked on by Marco Bustos to the top of the penalty area, where New Zealand international Myer Bevan slammed it home into the top-right corner of the net.
A Sacramento Republic FC free kick from the right was swung into the penalty area by Jeremy Hall and produced a strong header by Chris Christian, but the effort was denied by a spectacular stop from Spencer Richey, who got down quickly to stretch his arm out to make the save.