Foothills FC prepares for next step
In only a few short years, Foothills FC has gone from a team that just couldn’t quite find a way to win to a club who seem to leave with victories every time they take the field.
Tommy Wheeldon Jr. has an explanation for why that happened.
The Foothills coach has guided the team through its growth since it joined the Premier Development
League — the top under-23 league in North America and a major feeder system for the MLS — four seasons ago.
Next year, he’ll take over as head coach and general manager of Cavalry FC, Calgary’s new professional team that will play in the Canadian Premier League.
Has the opportunity to play professionally motivated his Foothills players to elevate their games?
Wheeldon certainly does think so.
“The tagline has been ‘Path to Pro,’ and all we’ve ever wanted to do is build that bridge that gets these younger players the opportunity to play in competitive leagues and put them on the map,” Wheeldon said.
“With the CPL around the corner, they can see a legitimate path. (With Wheeldon as the Calvary FC head coach and GM), the season’s been one big audition for the local lads, and they’re rising to it.”
That’s something of an understatement, considering the way the Foothills squad has run over its PDL Northwest Division opposition this season.
When they take the field Saturday against the Seattle Sounders U23 team at Foothills Field in Okotoks (2 p.m.), Foothills FC will already own the division championship.
Through 13 games, Foothills managed to create considerable separation from the pack.
Its 10-1-2 record has earned the squad 32 points, 12 more than the second-place Sounders.
Even more impressive, Foothills FC boast a goal-differential of plus-21, having scored 28 and allowing only seven.
That’s the most goals scored in the division and also the least allowed, for the record.
Foothills went on a magical run all the way to the PDL final back in 2016, but this season has been different.
The players who have been with the club from the start have developed and improved to the point where many of them could be ready for a shot with Cavalry FC when the team kicks off next season.
“I remember the first year at Shouldice Field … We lost only two games that season, but we tied seven and we had to learn to win at the next level,” Wheeldon said.
“I couldn’t be happier for the guys who have been there from the start. (Players like Domick Zator, Elijah Adekugbe and Tofa Fakunle) have learned how to win and how to play games, and I’m excited for what comes next for them.”
With the division all wrapped up, the only thing on the line Saturday against the Sounders will be pride.
But that’s not nothing, and with the playoffs around the corner, Foothills want to stay sharp.
The club beat the Sounders twice already this season, most recently earning a 3-1 victory in mid-June, and even if Foothills FC celebrating the divisional crown this weekend, a win would make things that much better.
The season’s been one big audition for the local lads, and they’re rising to it.” Foothills FC coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. on next year’s CPL entry
Calgary Foothills FC’s Dean Northover kicks the ball upfield against the TSS Rovers at the Calgary Foothills Soccer Club on June 23, 2018.