Growing pains for local PDL squad

Youthful WSA Winnipeg side struggling to find winning formula

An article by: Tim Campbell
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2013 D6
photos by Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press

Having begun their third year of a new soccer option for Winnipeg, WSA Winnipeg is finding out how difficult it is to turn good intentions into good results.The city's Premier Development League (PDL) club remains determined as it starts the home portion of its 2013 schedule Saturday at the Winnipeg Indoor Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. against the Thunder Bay Chill. The same teams meet again Sunday, same venue, at 5 p.m.

In Year 2, WSA Winnipeg finished the 16-game schedule with a 3-8-5 mark, with all of its wins coming at home in the 65-team, nine-division league that is only for players 23 and under.Year 3 began last weekend in Des Moines, Iowa, with a narrow 1-0 loss to the Menace."The league is hard because you're getting players from all over the world into the league, including some Brazilians, who were born with a ball on their feet," said WSA Winnipeg's leading scorer in 2012, 19-year-old Moses Danto. "So that's going to be difficult for us. We're only Winnipeg."But the experience of this league is good. I want to play at the highest level possible and this is the first step to playing professional for me.

"We all want to make it. This is the step to take."Danto has been all in for WSA Winnipeg, on the team since Day 1, and he insists neither he nor his teammates are discouraged in the least when wins are hard to find."Not at all, no way," Danto said. "I know we're capable of winning games in this league."This year, we're more of a team. The last couple of years, we've been a bunch of individuals but the coach is working hard to get us to play together, to think and act the same way."

The coach, Eduardo Badescu, certainly put his vocal cords to work at a mid-week practice in preparation for Thunder Bay, but he, too, is upbeat."We're really trying to make the playoffs," Badescu said. "We want to fight for that top-three spot. We'll try our hardest. The next few weeks will be a good indication against Colorado, Thunder Bay, Des Moines, the teams we're going to be fighting with."Badescu has added some fresh blood to the 2013 team, including forward Paulo Del Grosso, midfielders Braden Silva, Kyle Hiebert and Jiyu Iida and University of Winnipeg goalkeeper Tyson Farago.

Ali_Musse.pngAli Musse, pictured in photo on left,  teen Winnipeg star is paying his dues.  There is so much promise to his game but when the vast majority of players in the 23-and-under PDL are older, it has the makings of quite a challenge for 17-year-old WSA Winnipeg forward.

That journey had another positive chapter in April when Musse was a member of Team Canada at the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Panama. Canada won bronze.

"What a good experience, played in front of 10,000 fans," Musse, a third-year member of WSA Winnipeg said after practice this week. "That was new to me. I had only played in front of 500 at any one time.

"That was a good thing, and to be around those guys, the coaching staff and how strict it was. It was very professional. Everything was such an amazing experience."

Musse, who played for a short time with the Vancouver Whitecaps program, has now turned his focus to the PDL summer schedule. And in his efforts to be part of a more cohesive WSA Winnipeg team, he's got a personal goal. "Goals," he said. "You need goals to win and I want to score -- haven't done it yet in this league."

All are local products or have local connections, Badescu said, and that's the way WSA Winnipeg is going to continue to go about things."We're doing very well," Badescu said. "We have local players. Everybody has players from away. We use local players and it's our biggest secret, that we give them a chance, the opportunity. "The kids, at least 70 per cent of these players, have been together now the three years. Also, they grow up, they're more mature.  "We're about 19, our average age, probably one of the youngest in the league."In the the team's three weeks of training so far, and from its first match in Des Moines, it's the offensive area where it's been the toughest to find form.

"(In Des Moines), second half, we had more possession of the ball but couldn't find a way to score," Badescu said, talking about how the team pressed after falling behind on a late-first-half corner. "We were not executing in the attacking third (of the field)."