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There are several different ways of selecting a captain for your squad, depending on what type of coach you are.

With the younger kids, I like to let them all have a turn at taking the toss and leading the cheer. (Anytime you can get kids to share is a good thing)

When I select a skipper for any of the older juvenile teams I coach, it’s important that the rest of the team will accept the decision, and understand what it means to wear the armband.

One year, I let the players decide who they felt should represent them. Luckily, it was a unanimous pick. I’ve also had it go the other way, where the squad becomes divided into two camps, which not surprisingly, was the same team firmly rooted at the bottom of the table.

If I’m making the choice, I’ll usually pick someone who is going to be there every single day, come rain or shine, sickness or holiday. Dedication to the team has to be one of the most important criteria.

And most of all, the skipper of any side must set an example to the others through work rate, professionalism and the positive reinforcement of team principles.

If Tony Fonseca and Bob Lenarduzzi have similar ideas, then selecting Alfredo Valente as the Whitecaps new captain was a solid choice. Valente has been a fixture at Swangard for over 6 seasons (that’s almost 5 owners) and he’s still only 23 years old!

Being a Burnaby boy doesn’t hurt either, nor does his infectious effort. He’s versatile, sometimes playing at striker, and sometimes as a wide midfielder. Those who’ve watched Valente closely this year, will have noticed a steady increase in his scoring opportunities, chances created and minutes played.

And if you’ve watched “the Whitecaps This Week” and seen Alfredo’s thoughtful responses to the media, you’ll have sensed a new level of maturity from the Alpha high school product.

More impressive than Valente’s new leadership role, is the list of players who weren’t selected as captain. Nick Dasovic, the playing assistant coach, Carlo Corazzin the spiritual leader, Jeff Clarke the chatty and loyal veteran…Martin Nash, a proven A-League champion, and Davide Xausa with his impressive international resume.

Perhaps the captaincy doesn’t really mean much, and can even be a burden on the player. Just look at David Beckham, who missed 2 penalties for England at EURO 2004, and looked like a shell of the man who led Man United to so many championships.

Then again, maybe that armband can help boost a player to even greater accomplishments. And that may just be the case for young Alfredo Valente, who’s rising stock may have caught the eye of more than just the Whitecaps staff.

I’m pretty sure Canadian National Team coach Frank Yallop was in attendance for Friday’s ‘Caps – Lynx match. If he was, then you can bet several Whitecaps will get strong consideration for places on the National team, which hosts 2 high profile opponents in July.

FA Cup finalists Millwall join Scottish Premier league 3rd place finishers Hearts on a tour of the West Coast, with 2 stops at Swangard and one at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.

You can pretty much pencil in Carlo Corazzin, who scored the lone goal in Canada’s 1-0 win over Bermuda earlier this year, and has proven over the years to be a clutch performer for the Soccer ‘Nucks.

Nick Dasovic will likely get consideration for his veteran leadership, and ability to fill several roles, with the same being said for both Martin Nash, and Davide Xausa.

Jeff Clarke has had spot duty with the National team, and you can argue that a fully fit Jason Jordan deserves to bring his pace to the red and white camp.

But the two feel-good additions to Yallop’s North American based national team could come in the form of Johnny Sulentic, and the aforementioned Alfredo Valente.

Sulentic may have had one of his greatest games ever on Friday, scoring a brilliant goal on the turn, before a 90th minute flick that earned the penalty. And his second goal late in stoppage time had shades of Milan Baros’ first marker in that Czech Republic – Denmark game. (A goal that came off a crafty feed from Valente.)

I’ve always felt Canada’s midfield was lacking the kind of player who could run at opponents, and set up strikers, while being a threat to score themselves. And if you’ve ever been up close and seen Sulentic play there’s a noticeable hunger to his attack, and he has the skills to pull it off…something rare for a Canadian midfielder.

So come mid July, the starting 11 may be dressed in red…but for Swangard regulars, White may still be the colour!

Peter Schaad provides colour commentary for the Whitecaps this Week.

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