Sports Soccer

WFC2 Report: Levis adjusting to pro game

By Soren Elsay

WFC2 midfielder Brett Levis recently broke through for his first goal as a professional and has been impressing head coach Alan Koch. 
PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITECAPS FC

WFC2 midfielder Brett Levis recently broke through for his first goal as a professional and has been impressing head coach Alan Koch. PHOTO COURTESY OF WHITECAPS FC

Whitecaps FC2 (3W- 5L- 4D) 11th in West

 

May 31 vs. Arizona United SC

With the help of five additional MLS players on loan, including centre back Diego Rodriguez and midfielder Nicolas Mezquida, WFC2 pushed their unbeaten run at home to five games with a 2-0 win. Striker Caleb Clarke bagged his team-leading fourth of the year as he cleaned up a rebound shortly after halftime. The Caps got their well-deserved insurance marker when Brett Levis scored his first career USL goal on a beautiful individual effort in the 78th minute.

June 3 @ Real Monarchs SLC

After a successful homestand which saw the team collect seven out of a possible nine points, WFC2 began a three-game road trip with a 2-2 draw against the last-place Real Monarchs in Salt Lake City. Vancouver took the lead just before halftime through Caleb Clarke, who scored for the third consecutive game to take his season goal tally to five. After conceding the tying goal early in the second half, WFC2 took the lead in the 84th minute when Marco Bustos set up Andre Lewis for his first of the year. Lucas Baldwin would equalize for the home team two minutes into stoppage time.

June 6 @ Colorado Springs FC

Playing their third game in seven days, WFC2 fell 3-0 in Colorado. Aaron King opened the scoring just before the half for Colorado after he corralled a rebound off of Vancouver keeper Spencer Richey. The home team would add insurance late the second half as Luke Vercollone and Martin Maybin scored in the 78th and 83rd minutes, respectively, to ensure the victory and push Colorado two points clear of Vancouver in the Western Conference standings.

Man Marking: Brett Levis

Born and raised in Saskatoon, 22 year-old Brett Levis is perhaps the Whitecaps FC2’s most exciting player. The 5-foot-8 midfielder is as quick as they come, with or without the ball at his feet, and is now starting to find the range with his ever-dangerous left foot. The slippery midfielder, who has played both out wide and through the middle for coach Alan Koch, was named to the USL Team of the Week for Week 11 thanks to the tremendous solo effort that earned him his first career USL goal in the ‘Caps’ 2-0 win over Arizona.

Levis enjoyed a scintillating four-year career with his hometown University of Saskatchewan Huskies, leading them to their first-ever CanadaWest title in 2014 and being named to three CIS All-Canadian Teams during his time there. He also enjoyed a stint with the Whitecaps U-23 team before joining WFC2 for their inaugural season.

“Brett’s naturally gifted with the ball at his feet; he’s silky, silky smooth,” Koch said of Levis. “I’d hate to be a defender defending against him because you don’t know which way he’s going to go.”

Stepping into a professional league for the first time can challenge even the best players, and Levis is no different. After scoring with regularity in the CIS, Levis didn’t find the back of the net until his 10th game of the year, ending what he called the longest goal drought of his career.

“It was a little bit of a challenge,” Levis said of his first experience in the USL. “But I think I’m used to it now and slowly getting better.”

While extremely gifted with the ball, Koch has been preaching to Levis the importance of playing a more well-rounded game, and the coach likes the progress he is seeing.

“We’ve been working really hard with him to improve his defensive shape,” Koch told reporters. “He’s got to learn to keep his head up and find the right options, but I’m very pleased with Brett, he’s progressing, he’s getting better and better every week. To be honest, the sky is the absolute limit for him.”

Corner Kicks

-After hearing some criticism for the way he handled crosses during the Amway Canadian Championship against Toronto FC last year, 18-year-old keeper Marco Carducci still has room to improve command of his area. The Calgary native has lightning-quick reflexes and is a fantastic shot stopper, but has been victimized recently by a couple of balls passing in front of goal. Arizona got its late equalizer on May 17 after Carducci couldn’t claim a long throw into the box, and against the Real Monarchs both goals passed through the six-yard box before being finished.

-A welcome sight to both WFC2 and Whitecaps fans was Marco Bustos and Andre Lewis combining for the ‘Caps’ second goal in Salt Lake City. Both Bustos, who was named the Whitecaps’ Most Promising Player in 2013, and Lewis, whom Vancouver picked seventh overall in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, made their season debuts against the Monarchs after being sidelined with injuries.

-Thanks to their run of good results over the last few matches, WFC2 find themselves much closer to a playoff spot than earlier in the year. With just over a third of the season played, Vancouver finds itself three points out of the final playoff spot despite winning just one of its first eight games. While results aren’t the top priority for a development squad such as WFC2, winning and playing meaningful games is crucial for young players’ confidence and development.

Upcoming Fixtures

June 9, 5 p.m. @ Oklahoma City Energy FC

The Caps will wrap up their three-game road trip in Oklahoma, where the fourth-place Energy await. In their last meeting on May 17 in Vancouver, WFC2 carried much of the play but settled for a draw after a late equalizer from the visitors. The road-weary ‘Caps must stay focused if they want to return home with their second road win of the year.

June 14, 2 p.m. vs. LA Galaxy II

After three straight on the road, WFC2 will welcome their West Coast rivals into Thunderbird Stadium, where a visiting team has yet to win. Vancouver will need all the support it can get as the Galaxy are sitting pretty in the Western Conference table, currently occupying second spot, and having the confidence of taking three points off WFC2 in their last meeting, a 2-1 victory in Los Angeles.

June 21, 2 p.m. vs. Portland Timbers FC2

WFC2 will face the Timbers’ development squad for the first time this year as their Cascadian rivals travel up the I-5 to face the ‘Caps at Thunderbird Stadium. The Timbers currently find themselves a point up on Whitecaps2 but do have a game in hand. Despite a healthy home record, Vancouver will have to be wary of the visitors, who have picked up a very respectable eight points on the road so far this season.

 

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