'Caps starlet Alderson wins Canadian U-17 of the Year

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver Whitecaps prospect Bryce Alderson won his second consecutive Canadian U-17 Player of the Year award on Monday.

The Kitchener, Ontario, native earned the award for his role in helping Canada make the finals of the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which qualified the Canucks for their first U-17 World Cup in 16 years.

Alderson captained Canada through both of those tournaments, standing out for his composed play in the heart of midfield.

His dominant play in 2011 was recognized by Canada’s national team coaches as well as those coaches who have completed the Canadian Soccer Association’s B and A-level courses, who made up those eligible to vote.

Alderson won with a convincing 39.6 percent of the vote out of the six nominees. The runner up, Keven Aleman, was 17.3 percent back with 22.3 percent, showing just how highly Alderson’s play was regarded this season. Fellow Whitecaps prospect Daniel Stanese was one of the six nominees, but only received 1.4 percent of the vote.

“He’s a playmaker, so when he’s playing at his best, he stands out,” Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday. “He wants to get the ball, he wants to connect the play from the back to the front. His passing is very good and he’s at a stage in his career right now where he’s taken the next step, signing an MLS contract. And, to a certain extent, although we’ll have a lot to do with it, the rest is up to him.

“If he can continue to develop, we could have a very good player on our hands and he could have a very good career in front of him.”

Alderson signed a Generation adidas deal on Nov. 17, meaning he’ll be part of the club’s 30-man roster for the 2012 season, but the professional game will have its challenges.

“I think it’s always the speed of the game that’s the issue,” Lenarduzzi said. “When you move up, it’s not so much just him for him, it’s for other young players as well, it’s the speed of the game and the speed at which you do things changes drastically with each level you step up.”

Monday’s award continues a tradition of excellence at the U-17 level for the Whitecaps residency program. Russell Teibert won the award in 2008 and '09, and now Alderson has won it in 2010 and 2011.

“It goes some way to answering – because I know we get criticized for not having enough Canadian content – but our approach has always been that we’ll spend the money at the bottom end to try to develop the players and develop more of those,” Lenarduzzi said. “So, the players at the senior end – I keep saying,where are [those senior Candian players]?

“Somebody tell me, where those players are that are going to come in and do a good job for us? Our approach has been, over the long haul, if we can keep doing what we’re doing, then we’re going to provide a lot of young Canadians with a great development opportunity and ultimately that’s going to benefit the national team program.”

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.