The 2017 season is less than 2 weeks away for WSA Winnipeg. The good news is that the majority of the 2016 players are returning this year. That makes them a year older, wiser, and more experienced. That experience will be important to keep up with their Heartland Divisions competitors.
The Heartland Division has 3 of the top 5 Central Conference teams according to the PDL’s Power Rankings. That will make for a difficult season but WSA Winnipeg is looking sharp already.
I spoke with Head Coach Eduardo Badescu and he’s very optimistic about the season. Some of the players he said will make a difference include goalkeeper Evan Barker, who is fresh off a U Sports Atlantic Rookie of the Year campaign at University of New Brunswick, and defender Caelan Budhoo, who played in the U Sports bronze medal game for Cape Breton University. Other key players include strikers Will Brown and Tobias Hyrich-Krueger, and midfielder Jash Sangha.
There are some new additions and Badescu called them “young but capable” with important experience at the University of Winnipeg. It is the deepest team WSA Winnipeg has fielded in recent years and the new players will push the experienced players for minutes.
WSA Winnipeg has a long tradition of fielding a local team, with talent from the academy, and other premiere soccer clubs in Manitoba. Development for Manitoba players is the priority and Badescu said, “Of course our goal is to develop players, but we want 1 player to receive a scholarship, and 1 player to move up to USL.”
He expects a tough test from the other teams in the division. Des Moines is a perennial powerhouse, Thunder Bay has won the PDL championship in the past, and St. Louis FC is the U23 team for a USL squad.
The team starts the season on a 5 game road trip to Des Moines, St. Louis, and Chicago. The opener is May 20 at Des Moines Menace. The home opener is June 3 at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex against Thunder Bay Chill. For all the Manitoba readers, make sure to come out the the Soccer Complex to support the home team. The PDL is after all the #Path2Pro.