Alphonso Davies - Vancouver Whitecaps - Canadian Championship - Fallen vs. Ottawa
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Whitecaps youth struggle to convert development to victory in ACC loss

It was meant to be a game for Vancouver Whitecaps' young players to shine and show the Whitecaps' management team that they deserved to be in the mix for MLS minutes.

But after 90 minutes and a 2-0 away loss to the NASL Ottawa Fury in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship match up, Vancouver's depth is perhaps not looking as strong as many had hoped it would be.

Vancouver started six Canadian players, five of them Homegrowns, in a line-up that featured only one player, goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, older than 25. The 'Caps spoke before the game about their desire for their young players to go out and play freely, but the team turned in a rigid and impotent performance instead.

"We're disappointed," said 'Caps assistant coach Martyn Pert, to Vancouver's TSN 1410 radio after the match. "They didn't play to their full potential that we believe that they've got. They didn't express themselves, they didn't move the ball quick enough and therefore allowed them to get close and tight to us.

"We had too many touches, particularly the line behind their midfield, therefore we didn't really have that fluidity or any sort of possession really. We didn't create anything or move the ball quick enough or have any sort of creativity."

Head coach Carl Robinson likes to talk about the fine lines in soccer and his quandary in giving young players opportunities, especially in cup play, yet producing the necessary result: victory is one of them.

"The club model is we want to develop young players, without losing the fact that the game is about winning games of football," Robinson said. "Today we didn't win a game.

"We got some experience for some of them, some of them made their debut, we even had a 15-year-old [Alphonso Davies] on the field at the end of the game, who looked very sharp and very bright. It's finding the balance of doing that, development, giving chances, but winning. We didn't get that right today."

The flatness of the 'Caps young guns surprised Pert, who doesn't doubt their ability, though he noted one of the biggest adjustments for Vancouver's young players is going to be switching from learning mode to actual game mode, as evidenced by the Ottawa loss.

"Winning football is different to development football," Pert stated. They've got to learn the difference between that. In development football where every team looks to play football, every team looks to be creative, playing football the right way let's say.

"Then there's winning football where teams will give you different problems. They'll be more physical, they'll play a different style and you have to do the fundamentals. You have to learn how to win. You have to do the fundamentals as well as being a good technical player."