VANCOUVER, B.C. – Bryce Alderson may only be 17, but his poise and composure clearly impressed the Vancouver Whitecaps coaching staff during the club’s postseason evaluation camp.
“I like the [club’s] young kids,” Whitecaps assistant coach Paul Ritchie told MLSsoccer.com during the evaluation camp. “They don’t look out of place. Young Bryce is only 17 years old and has looked as if he was part of it for years. He’s always looking for the ball, and as a young kid in this environment, to have that about him, there’s something special about the kid. So we’ve got to keep an eye on him and keep nudging him the way we hope he’ll mature, and who knows what can happen for him.”
Of course Alderson’s talent and potential isn’t a big secret – he’s the captain of one of Canada’s most promising batches of young soccer players in recent memory, having recently helped his country qualify for its first U-17 World Cup in 16 years.
But the midfielder’s ability to carry the level of performance he’s shown at the youth international level into the professional game will ultimately determine just how good a player he can become.
“The U-17 World Cup was great, kind of like a different level I’ve never played at before,” Alderson said. “To experience that is obviously very important and you can’t put a price on that. It’s invaluable when you consider that I’m stepping up here into a professional environment.”
The Kitchener native’s desire to get on the ball shows his confidence, even when playing with the senior pros - and they’ve been doing their part to make the youngster feel welcome as well. Alderson also provided some insight into what he’s noticed about new head coach Martin Rennie’s coaching style.
“There’s a lot of veteran guys in there who help you along and make you feel comfortable,” Alderson said. “So far it’s gone really well. This [camp] is about getting to know the players a bit, so I think a lot of the sessions have been fairly basic in terms of lots of possession and a lot of game-type environments where [Rennie] can get to know us. I’m sure next year, when we start preseason and start to ramp up toward MLS, we’ll see a lot more of his coaching style and philosophy.”
The goal now for Alderson is to head into preseason and push on for a place in the club’s 30-man MLS squad.
“It’s been first class,” Alderson said. “The club has treated me extremely well, so I’m happy to be here and hopefully I can give something back in the coming years.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com