Vancouver Whitecaps' Residency players are currently on a six year Canadian U17 player of the year winning streak.
Russell Teibert did the double in 2008 and 2009. Bryce Alderson in 2010 and 2011 and Marco Carducci for the last two years, 2012 and 2013. All have been rewarded with MLS contracts by the Whitecaps.
The next group of young players are now competing to be the next one named and one player who has catapulted his way into the conversation is Victoria, BC native Dario Zanatta.
This season Zanatta, who turns 17 later this month, has scored 19 goals in 21 games for the Whitecaps, and has seen time, and the scoresheet, with both the U16 and U18 teams.
I had a chance to catch up with this up and coming Whitecaps Residency player to see what his plans are in the future and how excited he would be to be the second local BC kid to suit up for the MLS Whitecaps (*Caleb Clarke got 15 minutes of MLS action in two appearances towards the end of the 2012 season, as the first and only BC born player to come through the Residency program and play for the Whitecaps in the MLS so far).
AFTN: The Whitecaps have a great history with producing quality U17 players. Where do you see yourself fitting into that mix?
Dario: The Whitecaps history of having players win the U17 Player of the Year award has been very good, and I would be honoured to be nominated and follow in their footsteps. But I am a different player than those before me and I am just trying to be the best player I can be.
AFTN: You are off to a amazing start with the Residency this season. What area of your game do you feel you need to improve on before stepping up to the U18 set-up full time next season?
Dario: The physical side of the game is something I have been working on recently, as well as dealing better with crosses. Playing the number of games that I have with the U-18's this year has been very helpful, but as a player I am always trying to work on every aspect of my game.
AFTN: With the Whitecaps moving towards a younger attacking team, how excited are you at the thought of getting a chance to suit up for the team in MLS?
Dario: It is a goal of mine to play professional soccer, and playing in my home province with the Whitecaps would be a great thrill, but those are decisions that aren't up to me. I would hope that over time my development gives me that opportunity.
AFTN: What professional player would you compare your game to?
Dario: I aspire to play like any of the top strikers in the world, but the professional player I compare my game to is Robin van Persie.
AFTN: Finally, what are your soccer specific goals for the next 5 years?
Dario: To sign a professional contract, to represent my country at the U20 World Cup and to earn a spot with the senior team.
** There is one more U16 home game left this season in the USSDA and it takes place this coming Saturday, May 17th at Percy Perry Stadium in Coquitlam. The U16s will kick off at 2.30pm and before that the U18s will kick off the afternoon of football at noon. Come out and make it a Residency double header and #SupportTheFuture.
Follow Dario Zanatta on twitter @dario_zanatta. You can see video of Dario scoring for the Caps U16s against Portland in November below: