Sports Academy: Frustrating season for Vancouver’s Fisk
Two goals in two starts with Charleston, then 20-year-old Whitecaps prospect hit by knee injuries
It’s been a season of change and challenges for Vancouver’s Ben Fisk, who’s happy these days to be home and healthy.
Fisk, the Whitecaps 20-year-old attacking midfielder, was looking forward to a season-long loan to the Charleston Battery of the third-tier USL-Pro.
Two meniscus injuries in his left knee limited Fisk to less than 300 minutes for the Battery, but he’s feeling fit again and hoping to make an impression on the Caps coaches before the end of the year.
Fisk is back training with the Whitecaps’ first team and recently played his first 90-minute game since May, donning Canadian colours for the francophone Games in Nice, France.
“It’s been a frustrating year,” he said. “I started the season really well — I’d earned a starting spot and had two goals in two starts, a couple of assists — so I was really excited about how it was going, and then my knee flared up.”
Fisk returned from a first surgery and briefly regained his starting place in Charleston, where he was living with fellow Whitecaps prospects Bryce Alderson and Emmanuel Adjetey.
The meniscus injury returned, though, and the Caps brought Fisk back to Vancouver for a second surgery and his rehabilitation work.
For Fisk, who grew up playing for Grandview Legion, Italian Canadian Sports Federation and Marpole, and had stints with the Vancouver Selects and TSS Academy, it’s been the first major injury of his young career.
He said his “stubborn” personality has helped him through it.
“It’s definitely one of the hardest parts of the job,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a good thing to happen to you when you’re young but at least I can learn about taking care of my body, like my pre-hab stuff before training every day.
“I feel strong now.”
The Caps embraced the idea of loan deals this season as they try to figure out the best pathway from their residency program to professional soccer.
Rather than playing for the Caps’ U-23 Premier Development League team, and seeing some MLS reserve league action, the hope was for Fisk and others to be everyday players in second- and third-tier pro leagues.
It certainly seems to have worked out for centre back Carlyle Mitchell, who began this season with FC Edmonton of the NASL and is now starting and thriving in Vancouver.
Fisk called the Caps’ Charleston trio “guinea pigs” in this evolving development process and said he believed it was a good decision.
“I think it’s a lot better,” he said. “What I missed out on down there is training every day (in Vancouver) on a lot higher level, a lot higher intensity, but I need to be playing first-team football.
“It’s a tough one. I don’t know what the perfect situation is but I think it was a good thing to try and there were a lot of positives.”
Adjetey’s cooking may or may not have been one of them.
“He made me try one thing,” Fisk said of his Ghanaian teammate. “He said he’d be offended if I didn’t try it. It smelled awful but tasted pretty good.”
Fisk, who’s living at home for the time being, began his Caps career as a 16-year-old and there’s a sense on both sides that decision time is looming.
The same can surely be said for Alderson, who unlike Fisk is already on an MLS deal but hasn’t played for the first team, either.
“I’ve obviously been here a long time and I’d like to play for the first team,” said Fisk. “I’m 20 now.”
Fisk wouldn’t discuss other options beyond the Whitecaps. But at some point Europe has to look like a better option than South Carolina. And as more potential professionals emerge from their residency program, the Caps will have to determine how to focus their time and money.
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