Nolan Wirth continues to keep select company.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced Wednesday that seven Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency players have been called up to Canada’s men’s U-18 national team for the upcoming 2013 COTIF U-20 Tournament set to take place from Aug. 11 to 21 in l’Alcúdia, Spain.
Among those named to the 20-man roster were goalkeeper Wirth, who honed his soccer skills in the Comox Valley. He is also a former member of the BC Soccer Provincial Development program and the National Training Centre.
In July, Wirth was with the Vancouver Whitecaps U17/18 squad that placed sixth at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs in Texas.
The team opened with a 3-1 win over Seattle, lost 1-0 to eventual tourney winner New York Red Bulls, held Albertson FC to a scoreless draw, then lost 1-0 to Missouri in the match for fifth place.
In Spain, U-18 head coach Rob Gale will lead his side into the tournament against Japan, Argentina, Bulgaria and Belarus during the group stage. “This high level of competition is going to be ideal for our boys,” said Gale ahead of the team’s departure for Europe.
“The overarching goal here is preparing this group of players for the next cycle of FIFA U-20 World Cup Qualifiers and this is the type of opposition we need to prove we can compete against, Gale said on the Whitecaps’ website.”
As has been a continuing theme for Canada’s youth program under the stewardship of technical director Tony Fonseca, Gale will ask his U-18s to continue to express themselves as creative footballers – even against some of the best youth sides in the world.
“We want to go into this tournament in a way that will continue to see us play the attacking brand of football we preach throughout our youth system,” said Gale.
Gale has selected a diverse group of players with talent being brought in from clubs across five countries.
“What’s promising is that there is an increasingly larger number of players playing day-in and day-out in professional environments,” said Gale.
“We will continue to offer opportunities to the players that are challenging themselves by fighting for professional contracts.”