The Whitecaps signed residency product Sam Adekugbe on Wednesday. Canada also called up Adekugbe, Russell Teibert and residency player Jackson Farmer for September's training camp.
On Wednesday, the 'Caps signed 18-year-old left fullback Sam Adekugbe, a player who has come through Vancouver's residency program after arriving at the club in September 2011.
The Manchester, England native has played 57 times for the club's U-16 and U-18 teams since his arrival.
Internationally, Adekugbe plays for Canada after moving to Calgary at age nine, and has most recently represented his adopted country at the 2013 COTIF U-20 tournament in l’Alcúdia, Spain, from August 11 to 21.
“It's definitely been a roller coaster,” Adekugbe said after a training session at the University of British Columbia on Wednesday. “It's been really exciting. I'm just happy I've been able to make my way up the ladder...coming through the residency, making my way into the [Premier Development League], making my way into the reserves, making my way into first team training sessions.
“It's definitely been very exciting.”
Given the Whitecaps are quite light at the fullback positions, with only three on the roster prior to Adekugbe's signing, the player sees a window to perhaps gaining first team minutes sooner rather than later.
Currently, the club has just Jordan Harvey and Lee Young-Pyo starting at the left and right fullback positions, respectively, with Greg Klazura, who can play on either side, as cover.
“I have a lot of goals this year,” Adekugbe said. “I've been able to make the first team, which is one of them. So hopefully I can maybe do something to get into the 18-man squad or the starting XI. But at the end, I'm just here to improve myself as a player.
“If that starts in the training sessions, that starts in the training sessions. I'm just excited to be here.”
Adekugbe models his game after England and Chelsea star Ashley Cole, one of the best attacking fullbacks in world football over the past decade.
“I think that I'll be able to bring an athletic attribute coming up from fullback,” Adekugbe said. “I've been working on a lot of my attributes so I think I can provide a lot in terms of technical ability and getting forward and creating chances as a defender.”
Beyond the news of Wednesday's signing, the club also received word Canada coach Benito Floro has called up Adekugbe, first teamer Russell Teibert and residency player Jackson Farmer for his 33-man squad for a training camp in Valencia, Spain, from September 1-11.
Farmer participated in a first-team training session on Wednesday and was delighted with word that he'd be linking up with the full national team for the first time.
“I'm really excited about it,” Farmer said on Wednesday. “Can't wait to get in with the new coach. I met him a week ago. He's a really nice guy and I just can't wait to get along with the playing style and meet all the new guys. Just the whole experience with the senior men's national team.”
Between the call ups and the signing of another young Canadian, the club's head coach was beaming about the long-term outlook of Vancouver's youth development set-up.
“The club's always had this vision to try and help Canadian soccer by developing young players, Canadian players, and then bringing them through our system and then getting them into the national team,” Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie said on Wednesday. “I think we're starting to see the results of that. It takes time – people are always waiting to see when that's going to happen and even now it's still going to take time for these players to develop and become their best.
“They're already at a point where the national team feels they should be called in and I think that shows just how well they're doing.”