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Wirth graduated from the Whitecaps Residency program last summer, having joined the program in 2011. With many USSDA and PDL games now behind him, he headed to Oregon State University. Initially sharing starts in his rookie year with Junior keeper Matt Bersano, Wirth played five games, four of them starts. Despite winning three games, allowing just three goals and keeping two clean sheets, the Beavers coach decided to stick with the more experienced Bersano for the remainder of the season. It's hard to knock that decision as the Beavers made it to the postseason for the first time since 2003 but with Wirth used to splitting time with the Residency teams these past few years, and seeing regular gametime, being completely kept on the bench for the remainder of the season must have been a bit of an adjustment. Still, that's the life of college soccer, so onwards and upwards. Bersano has now moved on from Oregon, turning down a pro contract with RSL's USL side Real Monarchs to go to grad school at Penn State. His departure will hopefully open more doors and opportunities for Wirth with the Beavers in his sophomore season. He has a great chance to establish himself now as Oregon's number one keeper and the signs during OSU's spring schedule seemed to indicate he would be. "I'm looking very positive for that looking ahead," Wirth told AFTN recently. "Hopefully I'm going to be the guy and we can make it to the tournament again." With just 405 minutes of action logged last year at Oregon, Wirth made the decision to keep himself busy, fit and sharp during the college offseason by heading back to play some PDL this summer. With the Caps U23's team no more, Wirth has headed east to join Calgary Foothills in their inaugural PDL season, where he's splitting the goalkeeping duties with fellow Whitecaps Residency alumni, Sean Melvin. There's a couple of other Caps connections too, with Residency graduate Tim Hickson and Sam Adekugbe's brother Elijah also on the Foothills roster. When we spoke with Nolan a couple of months ago, the original plan was to play with Vancouver Victory in Washington's Evergreen League, but he's made one appearance for Calgary so far, in last Sunday's 2-2 draw with Washington Crossfire. "It's just to get some more game time," Wirth told us back in March. "But in the summer I will be training with the Whitecaps again and then going whenever I'm able to get some time in, just for game time." Wirth was recently back in Vancouver, playing in goal for the Beavers in March's friendly between OSU and WFC2. Oregon were on the wrong end of a 3-2 defeat that day but for Wirth, it was just nice to be back and catch up with some old friends. "It felt good," he told us. "It felt good to come back to where I started. I obviously know a handful of the guys on the WFC2 team, so that always just gets me riled up to play because you want to play against your friends that you grew up with." And a lot of those friends have also been his teammates on the Canadian national team these past few years. Wirth was one of nine Whitecaps Residency products on Canada's 20-man roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Jamaica in January. Canada may not have had much success in what were the qualifiers for the recent U-20 World Cup in New Zealand, crashing out in the group stages after a strong start, but on a personal level, the tournament was a success for Wirth, who got the nod over his fellow Residency alumni Marco Carducci in three of the five group games. As disappointing as the tournament was, Wirth feels that the Canadian team can still take positives from it. "I felt that there were lots of lessons that we all took from the whole tournament. I feel it was just a building point and everybody needs to look forward from that." It certainly feels like too talented a group not to go on and do well for the national team at the next level these coming years. As for Wirth's plans for his own footballing future, with the Whitecaps maintaining his MLS right and with the new pro pathway of WFC2 in USL, is that enough to see him come out of college early? That's a decision still yet to be made. "I'm kind of just taking it year by year," he told us. "I'm going to keep that bridge with the Whitecaps and keep all my options open."
"The first 25 to 30 minutes against SFU, they gave us a good challenge," Koch told AFTN after the Oregon match. "Then I think our guys figured things out and picked it up, came out and put in a good performance the rest of the way through. "Today, and I give Oregon State credit, for the majority of the 90 minutes they made us question ourselves at times and made us have to go out and actually problem solve on the pitch. Having said that, I give our guys credit. It wasn't a great performance but they figured it out, they got themselves a result. We win and we should move forward now to the season in good confidence and feeling pretty good about ourselves." Oregon State started the match strongly, going ahead just two minutes in, as the 'Caps defence were being given a testing time. But they saw off the pressure and Spanish winger Victor Blasco tied the score up in the 16th minute, after his shot was deflected in off a Beavers defender after some fantastic build up work from Ben McKendry, who had broken up an Oregon attack. The Whitecaps finished the half the stronger but Oregon State came out refreshed for the second half and went ahead for a second time six minutes in when they headed home a corner. But the 'Caps regrouped and then controlled the rest of the match. WFC2 captain Tyler Rosenlund tied things up again in the 65th minute when the ball came to him on the edge of the box from a corner and he drilled a fine shot into the bottom left hand corner of the net. You got the feeling that a WFC2 winner was coming and it did with six minutes to go, when McKendry went on a run and played in Blagojevic, who took a touch before burying it past Whitecaps Residency alumni Nolan Wirth. McKendry and Blagojevic had linked up well, and that was one of the positives to take from a mixed performance, that didn't see too many players stand out on the day or stake a claim for themselves in next week's starting eleven. The WFC line-up for the game was as follows: Spencer Richey; Ethen Sampson, Jackson Farmer, Craig Nitti, Jordan Haynes (Chris Serban 57);.Mitch Piraux (Alex Marrello 77), Tyler Rosenlund, Victor Blasco (Jovan Blagojevic 69), Ben McKendry; Brett Levis (Sahil Sandhu 69); Caleb Clarke (Mackenzie Pridham 57) Preseason is in the history books and the WFC2 squad now have a week to focus and prepare for their inaugural USL match next Sunday. Seattle Sounders 2 will provide a stiff test for the Whitecaps at Starfire next weekend. The Sounders kicked off their USL season on Saturday night with an impressive 4-2 win over Sacramento Republic in front of a sold out home crowd of 2,951 fans. All six goals game in a frenetic second half. But after a preseason which has seen his squad quickly gel and start to show the makings of an impressive attacking side with fierce competition for places, Koch is heading into the USL season in confident mood. The tough part is actually now nailing down what his starting eleven is going to be. "I think we're in a good place, " Koch told us. "We have a good group of players They're enthusiastic, they're motivated, they're fit, they're ready. We have a good grasp on how we're asking them to play. At this stage it's now trying to figure out exactly what the starting line-up is going to be. "If you ask me right now, I have no clue, because it's not just looking at our group that we have right now, it's also about trying to manage the player pool that the group has within the club. But the group that we have here have been working very hard for us and I'm very proud of them so far and I'm excited to work with them going into the season." Exactly what players from the MLS squad Carl Robinson will want to get regular minutes right now is the unknown quantity in all of this. Several have featured in the preseason matches and training scrimmages, including centrebacks Christian Dean and Tim Parker. While they, and others like Marco Bustos (who is currently injured) and Kianz Froese, will move freely between the two squads, we also expect to see Andre Lewis announced as being loaned to the USL team for the season. This frees up both a roster and international spot, allowing Robinson to finally sign Robert Earnshaw. But as Koch told us before, competition for places on the team is fierce and he has a couple of players battling it out for every position. We expect Marco Carducci to get the initial nod in goal, although Spencer Richey has been pushing hard. They may share starts to begin with but Koch has told them both that the best keeper will win out in the end and make the starting spot his. Carducci can still play for the U18s in USSDA action, as he was away doing this weekend. The defence is a toss up right now, with so many players pushing. Jackson Farmer has looked very good in camp in both the right back and centreback positions and we're fans of what Chris Serban can bring to the team in either full back role. The two centrebacks could change from game to game with four guys, including new addition Craig Nitti, all wanting and needing minutes. Captain Tyler Rosenlund should fill one of the DM roles and whether it will be Mitch Piraux or Ben McKendry beside him will have to be seen. All three can also play other midfield roles. Brett Levis has featured regularly in the preseason games but I think he may miss out on a starting spot initially. Victor Blasco may have done enough against Oregon State to see him starting on the right, with Jovan Blagojevic coming on as a sub, although it is Blagojevic who has the contract right now. Marco Bustos will play the number 10 role when fit, but there's a few others who can step in there right now until he is. Up front, for me, Mackenzie Pridham has shown much more than Caleb Clarke these past few games, although Clarke did do well against Seattle. Pridham banged four goals in against SFU and hit the bar against Oregon State, and that one looked like it had crossed the line. We all know what Clarke can do, he now needs to start showing it. So a lot for Koch to think over this coming week. But whoever ends up taking the pitch at Starfire next Sunday, the WFC2 coach is confident they'll get the job done and the 'Caps will get their new USL era off to a successful start. "We're going in to Seattle," Koch said. "They played last night and won, so they've picked up three points already. They've got that first game, first jittery nerves, out of the way already too. But we've got a good week [ahead]. We'll put in a good week of training in together, go out and give it our best shot. We're feeling good about ourselves, so there's no reason why we can't go there and win the three points."