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Five New Players to Watch with Whitecaps FC 2 During the 2017 USL Season

March 24, 2017 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 News Release

The USL season kicks off this Saturday when Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) travel on the road to take on LA Galaxy II at 2 p.m. PT (watch live on whitecapsfc.com).

Today we look at five new players to watch for the 'Caps in USL this season.

#33 FRANCIS DE VRIES (AGE: 22, HOMETOWN: CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND)

An intriguing new centre back prospect at the club who was selected in the second round (29th overall) of this year's MLS SuperDraft.

A native of New Zealand, de Vries spent time in Europe playing in the academy of Swiss club FC Basel. In between his collegiate seasons he played in the PDL for Michigan Bucks, winning the league championship in both 2014 and 2016.

The 6-foot-2 defender spent preseason with the first team, playing in all three matches in Wales. He's very good with the ball at his feet, able to hit an accurate long pass. He's also shown a toughness and athleticism in preseason that should put him in good stead during the USL season.

And if he get the chance to hit a free kick... watch out.

#42 DAVID NORMAN JR. (AGE: 18, HOMETOWN: COQUITLAM, BC)

A local lad who has been supporting the club as long as he can remember.

After coming through the Residency program, the 18-year-old played one season at Oregon State University and led the beavers with five assists in his freshman year.

The Coquitlam native is a box-to-box midfielder who will work hard to break up plays and push the play forward to get the attack going. He's also stepped up to take set pieces in his youth, and during preseason with WFC2. Through both avenues, he's regularly produced notable assist totals, and that could very well continue as he begins his pro career.

#44 ANDY THOMA (AGE: 23, HOMETOWN: LOS ALAMOS, NEW MEXICO)

The only pro soccer player from Los Alamos, New Mexico moves north up the I-5 after previously being a part of the Portland Timbers MLS squad.

Originally drafted by the Timbers 24th overall in 2015, Thoma went on to start 36 of his 42 appearances for Timbers 2 in USL.

The 23-year-old brings speed, grit, and a very good left foot.

He's expected to split time between left wing and left back, and is capable of excelling at both spots.

#41 DOMINICK ZATOR (AGE 22, HOMETOWN: CALGARY, ALBERTA)

A recent addition to the roster, Zator joins from his hometown of Calgary where he played for both the University of Calgary Dinos in CIS (now U Sports) and for Calgary Foothills FC in the PDL. In fact, with Foothills FC he faced de Vries in the 2016 PDL championship final.

By all accounts, Zator is a character player with great promise - his coaches rave about him. He was captain with the Dinos, and came up big for Foothills FC in key moments during their season.

He follows a path from Canadian university, to PDL, to WFC2, just as Brett Levis did. Now that he's reached the USL level, Zator will look to continue proving himself.

#66 MICHAEL BALDISIMO (AGE: 16, HOMETOWN: BURNABY, BC)

The youngest player on the USL roster, and the younger brother of fellow WFC2 player Matthew Baldisimo.

Michael makes the jump to the professional level while still seeing time in the Development Academy for both Whitecaps FC U-16 and U-18 Residency teams. He's a tenacious young player, capable of playing both in the midfield and as a fullback.

His play earned him a trip to Portland with the first team in preseason, where he made a late substitute appearance against Real Salt Lake.

The 16-year-old played regularly with WFC2 in their preseason matches, and may well earn a number of opportunities during the USL season.

WFC2 begin their home schedule on Saturday, April 8 versus Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC 2 at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley, BC, where they play six matches this upcoming season. The first of their 10-match home schedule at UBC Thunderbird Stadium is on Saturday, April 22 versus San Antonio FC. Click here for ticket information.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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