The end of his convoluted youth career is just the beginning of his professional career.
On January 23rd, 2020, 21-year-old midfielder Patrick Metcalfe signed his first MLS contract, making him the latest Homegrown Player for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
However, his path to this point was not simple. In terms of soccer development in the Vancouver area, Metcalfe has pretty much done it all.
“I think I’ve been through probably every single pathway in BC soccer”, Metcalfe noted, in a recent exclusive interview with BTSVancity.
He’s been from house league, to Gold 2, to Gold 1, to Metro, to HPL, to Whitecaps Residency, to USL, to the Whitecaps Development Squad, and now, to the Whitecaps first team.
Metcalfe played his youth soccer at Richmond FC, and eventually got selected for the Gold 2, and then the Gold 1 teams for his hometown club. From U11 to U14, he always played with the players a year older than him on Richmond FC’s Metro teams, where his team saw success in the form of two Coastal Cups and two Provincial championships.
From there, Metcalfe moved to Fusion FC at the start of HPL, in U14. He spent two of his years on Fusion FC playing a year up, and two of his years playing in his own age category. Halfway through Metcalfe’s U18 year, he signed with the Whitecaps residency squad, where he played for a year.
After this, he signed with Whitecaps FC 2, where he spent the rest of their final 2017 season before they folded. That would not be the only challenge that 2017 brought him, either, as he faced an injury in the form of a slipped disc in his back, which kept him out for nearly a year.
Upon the end of his recovery, he was contacted by TSS Rovers, which he thanks as being a perfect environment for him to get his fitness back and get some good training in. After playing a summer with the Rovers, he went back to the newly created Whitecaps development squad, played with them for 4 or so months, and then got his sought-after first team Homegrown Player contract with the Whitecaps.
Metcalfe claims “I always believed in my abilities and I was always my biggest supporter.” He also stresses the mental side of the game as a vital part of his successes so far with football. “If you have the right mentality, you can go take the game as far as you want”, he added. He largely attributes his mental strength as what was able to get him to the professional level.
Once he found his way back into the Whitecaps fold with the Development squad, Metcalfe thanks Marc Dos Santos for giving him the opportunity to train with the first team and eventually to come up from that Whitecaps development team to the first team full time. Speaking about how Dos Santos has changed the club, Metcalfe says “Since the time he has arrived, the culture of the club seems much different than it was here three or four years ago. So, I think in that respect, he’s done an amazing job.”
Speaking to his role, Metcalfe says in training he’s been playing as a number 6/8 as a box-to-box midfielder, as well as sometimes at centre-back if someone else is injured. He explains that Marc Dos Santos “praises the work midfielders do off the ball almost more than the work they do on the ball.”
He described his style of play as “I’m definitely not the type of player that’s going to dribble a team and score a crazy goal from 40 yards out. My biggest strengths are my technical ability, my ability to read the game. One of the reasons I was overlooked as I was growing up is I wasn’t that standout player that was going to catch your eye right away. I’m thankful for the Whitecaps staff and the youth recruiters that say the stuff I did behind the scenes that helps the team so much to win games.”
While he’s not the most flashy of players, Metcalfe is strong and eloquent on the ball, seldom loses possession, and has the ability to play defence-breaking balls forward. He is hard-working off the ball, and very strong defensively as well.
Although Metcalfe explained that he’s not the type of player to score long-shot goals from far out, he did exactly that in a match with the development squad when they went on tour in Korea last year. With 25,000 people in the stands, Metcalfe unleashed a thunderous strike from outside the box, giving him a memory he won’t soon forget: “To get that goal was pretty special. I’ll definitely never forget it,” he said.
In wrapping up the interview, we asked Metcalfe about his future goals on and off the pitch.
Off the pitch, Metcalfe explained that “after my playing career, having a job that’s still a part of the game such as a sporting director of a club or something in that general area would be amazing to have. Metcalfe is taking courses online at the Southern New Hampshire University. He just began his new degree in Business Administration with a focus in Sports Management.
“On the field, I’d definitely like to spend the next couple seasons here with Vancouver, and try my best to become one of the most important players or the most important player on the squad, but obviously ever since I was small I’ve always wanted to play in Europe, so I think eventually one day I’d like to try and go over to Europe.” he added.
Metcalfe’s rise to Major League Soccer is an inspiring story for hopeful young footballers in Vancouver. However, Metcalfe is nowhere near the end of his journey. In the short term, he hopes to continue impressing with the Whitecaps first team and to begin logging MLS minutes post COVID-19, and from there, no one knows what the future holds for the young footballer. Metcalfe was able to rise through the ranks through his youth career, and he’s going to look to continue rising through his professional career one step at a time, starting with the Whitecaps, whenever they return to action.
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