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Pitt Meadows soccer player sees world with Canadian U-17 squad

Daniel Stanese

Pitt Meadows’ Daniel Stanese has been logging his fair share of frequent flyer miles of late.

Since joining the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer prospect residency program in September and earning a roster spot with the Canadian national U-17 development team last year, the 16-year-old has spent almost as much time in the air as he has on the pitch.

Beginning in October, Stanese travelled with the national squad to Florida for warm-up matches with the US development team, then to Jaimaca, to play against their best young players. Then it was off to Costa Rica for a development camp and exhibition games against local junior teams, then back to Jamaica for World Cup qualifiers.

In between were trips across Canada with the Whitecaps prospects team.

“I’ve been doing a lot of travelling, and it’s great,” says Stanese. “I get to see the world, and I’m playing against the best.”

So far, Stanese has 12 caps in international play with the Canadian U-17 team.

At six-foot-one, Stanese has excelled since switching two years ago to centre back from midfield, where his height and positional play allow him to win battles for headers and block shots.

Stanese has his sights set squarely on a professional soccer career. He says he wants to play for the Whitecaps in the MLS someday, but if that doesn’t work out, he’d like to give Europe a shot.

“I have family in Germany, so that’s one place I’d like to go.”

However, signing with the Whitecaps means he’s no longer eligible for an NCAA scholarship.

Stanese said it wasn’t an easy decision for him and his family, but ultimately he felt be a part of the Whitecaps program would give him the best chance to develop as a player.

“I’ve been really happy with the decision so far,” he says. “The training is pretty intense... here they really get you ready for that next level.”

The program has plenty of local flavour, with Alex Rowley and Dálen Babic, both from Maple Ridge, also playing for the Whitecaps juniors.

Stanese carpools with Babic to Burnaby Central, where the Whitecaps prospects attend high school. It’s a lot further than Pitt Meadows High School, where he went last year, but the semester system there means only having to take two courses at a time.

“Academic wise, it’s a lot easier,” he says.

Stanese first showed up on the national team’s radar at the U-16 national championships, where he was a member of Team B.C. After getting an invite to the team’s selection camp last year in Laval, Quebec,

“It was kind of overwhelming,” he says of getting picked for the national squad. “It’s a real honour.”