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Will Vancouver Whitecaps steal Academy thunder?

Published: January 26, 2012

There's an interesting uprising going on in the Development Academy's U18 Northwest Division and the Vancouver Whitecaps are leading it.

The newest addition to the Academy, the Whitecaps have burst onto the scene with the intention of challenging the establishment - also known as, Seattle Sounders FC.

With a 9-2-2 record, which includes a 3-0-1 divisional mark, Vancouver has sent an early message that they're legitimate contenders. The 3-1 victory over the reigning division champion Sounders on December 17 further drove the point home.

boys club soccer player dominique dismukeDominque Dismuke (Photo by Seattle Sounders)
"The Vancouver Whitecaps are one team that can challenge us for the top spot," admitted Sounders leading scorer Dominique Dismuke. "I have nothing but respect for those guys because they are a very good team."

Added teammate Ian Lange, the Sounders' center back, "Vancouver will challenge us but I still believe we will win the division."

Alright, then.

On paper, the Whitecaps have proven to be more dominant than the rest of the division thus far. They're scoring twice as many goals as their opponents, the only team that can say that, and they've yet to lose at home.

Then there's the matter of Vancouver being a residency program which obviously allows them to benefit from focused training and chemistry building.

Caleb Clarke is guiding the team's attack with a healthy group of capable players filling in behind him.

But enough about the Whitecaps. The Northwest Division is much more than a one, or two-horse race.
De Anza Force ranks second to Vancouver in points but trails no one in confidence.

"There are several things that make us a strong team," said De Anza's Matt Escobar. "We have a deep team where everyone competes to make the starting lineup. We have great chemistry that keeps building."

De Anza will be leaning even more heavily on chemistry considering they're currently without their two top attacking players (James Huffer and Ryan Masch) who are recovering from injuries.

"We've been moving players around accordingly," Masch said. "I strongly believe in the abilities of my teammates and think that we have a great chance of going to the playoffs for the third year in a row."

Crossfire Premier will be another quality club to watch for but their intrastate rival the Sounders are the resident alpha dog of the division and they have the success to back it up.

The Sounders' current squad includes players from the U16 team that reached last year's National Finals - a target destination for the elder group.

"If we play our game the way we know we can it'll be tough for (anyone) to get the top spot over us," Dismuke said.  

MORE ACADEMY NEWS: Chivas USA, Whitecaps showdown | SoCal U18 breakdown

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