Residency product Caleb Clarke joined the Vancouver Whitecaps' MLS roster on Tuesday, as the man who helped him turn pro, Richard Grootscholten, announced his departure.
BURNABY, B.C. – In with the new, out with the guy who helped develop the new guys.
As the Vancouver Whitecaps welcomed Caleb Clarke, a residency program product, to their Major League Soccer roster on Tuesday, they also prepared to say goodbye to Richard Grootscholten, the man who helped develop Clarke into a professional player as Residency program technical director.
“Richard has been a key member of Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s residency program and has done a great job assisting with the restructuring of the program over the past two years,” club president Bob Lenarduzzi said in a statement. “With many of the building blocks now in place, and many goals achieved, Richard has decided to move on to new opportunities. We thank Richard for his time and his many contributions to the club.”
The Dutchman, who joined the club in November 2010, will stay on until Friday, and beyond that will act as an advisor to the club as they seek his replacement.
Under Grootscholten’s watch, winger Russell Teibert, midfielder Bryce Alderson and goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre also made the jump from the residency program to the first team.
One for the future
Caleb Clarke became the 29th player on the club’s 30-man MLS roster on Tuesday, leaving one spot open for the arrival of Designated Player Barry Robson in July.
The 18-year-old is the club’s sixth homegrown signing, after spending two-and-a-half years with the club’s residency program, and as a native of Richmond, B.C., is the club’s first genuine local product.
“I’m thrilled to have realized my dream of signing a professional contract and delighted to have achieved this with my hometown club in Whitecaps FC,” Clarke said in a club statement. “I look forward to making the next step in my career as a player and I am pleased to be helping Whitecaps FC become a top club in MLS and CONCACAF."
The 6’1, 165-pound striker has scored 20 goals in 19 matches for the club’s U-18 team in the United States Soccer Development Academy league during the 2011-12 season, and scored three goals and three assists in 16 Premier Development League appearances in 2011.
“We’re really glad that we’ve managed to work that out,” head coach Martin Rennie told Goal.com at Swangard Stadium on Tuesday. “He’s one of the most promising players coming through the ranks at the moment, and it’s right that he gets his chance to join the first team. We’ve had him in with us a few times and if we can get him in with us on a regular basis we’ll be able to help him develop.
“I think he can develop into a good player. He’s done well at the level he’s been playing at, scored a lot of goals. So it would be nice to see that translate at this level too.”