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Orange County Blues vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: Three Questions

Ahead of the Blues' second game of the season, we get the scoop on their next opponent.

Clarke: On loan to the Thundercaps, scored his first USL goal last week.
Clarke: On loan to the Thundercaps, scored his first USL goal last week.
Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

Hey folks! Guess what? Three questions is back! Yes, we knew this would brighten your Friday.

For our first entry of 2015, we welcome Mark Dailey of SB Nation blog Eighty Six Forever, to discuss the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 ahead of their game on Sunday against the Orange County Blues (4 pm PT at Anteater Stadium). The gang at Eighty Six Forever have christened the Vancouver Whitecaps' USL side the "Thundercaps," a nickname I quite like and one I'm going to run with. Many thanks to Mark for taking the time to answer my questions!

The Goat Parade asks Eighty Six Forever:

1. WFC2 has played two games to date. How is it going for the team in its first days?

The first match against S2 was a really poor start for the Thundercaps. I'm not sure if it was because Seattle was just that much better, or if it was because WFC2 coach Alan Koch had five of the MLS squad players loaned to him for that match and it disrupted the "chemistry" of his team. Seattle's Andy Craven and Darwin Jones caused all sorts of problems for the Thundercaps, and between them they accounted for all four of S2's goals (and two assists). Additionally, the WFC2 backline looked very disorganized all afternoon long, and they rarely found themselves in a position to threaten the Seattle goal.

Last week against the Austin Aztex the Thundercaps looked much more organized and in control. They started well when Caleb Clarke scored in the twelfth minute, but they weren't able to put the match away until fifteen minutes from full time when Austin ‘keeper, Devin Perales, was unable to stop a thundering free kick from WFC2 defender Craig Nitti. To top it off Billy Schuler scored a third goal in the dying moments of the match to seal a convincing 3-0 victory for the Caps.

2. As you noted, Caleb Clarke notched his first goal for the Thundercaps in their last game. As one of the Whitecaps residency products who is still with the first team but hasn't gotten much playing time, do you think he can break through in USL and leverage that into more time with the MLS side? Or might USL ultimately be a better option for him?

I think the USL is the right place for Caleb at the moment. The Whitecaps have quite a few forwards, in particular strikers, all chomping at the bit to get minutes with the MLS team. Darren Mattocks, who has not much playing time with the first team so far this season, scored a goal and and added an assist against the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night. Darren, who undoubtedly is a talented player, has endured all sorts of criticism from the fans over the years for not living up to his potential. If Carl Robinson has finally found a way to bring the best out in Mattocks, then that just puts Caleb further down the depth chart. The question is, though, whether Robinson can give guys like Mattocks, Erik Hurtado and Nicolás Mezquida enough MLS minutes to keep them happy. If he can, and these guys all stay with the Whitecaps this season, then Clarke has a lot of work to do to work his way up in the pecking order.

3. Among the players who aren't on loan from the Whitecaps, who has caught your eye so far?

One of the guys I have my eye on is striker Jovan Blagojevich, who played for Alan Koch at Simon Fraser University. Blagojevic brings an impressive resume to the Thundercaps, having scored 38 goals in 71 appearances for the SFU Clan. Jovan is coming off a season in which he was in spectacular form scoring 18 goals in 18 matches. This impressive season earned Blagojevic the 2014 NCAA West Region Player of the Year, the GNAC (Great Northwest Athletic Conference) Player of the Year and earned second team All-American honors. It will be interesting to see if Jovan can be successful at the professional level as he was at the collegiate level. It's early days yet, but he did tally an assist against the Aztex.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!