TORONTO – Noah Verhoeven has a lengthy to-do list.
The 19-year-old forward is eager to put Pacific FC and himself on the map — something he’s already accomplished after recently being named the North American Soccer Reporters’ CPL U-23 Player of the Week.
“I want to do as well as I can with the team,” Verhoeven told CanPL.ca. “I’m hoping to win something, that’s always the goal. Personally, I’d like to play as many games as I can. I’m still a young player. I want to get playing time under my belt; need to to improve. That’s big for me.
“I’d like to develop the more defensive side of my game. (PFC coach) Michael (Silberbauer) has been amazing at helping me with that. And also fine tune some of my attacking play: the final pass or the final shot, creating more chances in that department.”
Besides donning Pacific’s purple of late, Verhoeven has had the pleasure of pulling on the red kit of Canada quite a bit in the past year, too. The Surrey, B.C. native represented Canada at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship last fall, the end result of six years of development at Whitecaps FC residency.
The former Fresno FC player was also a standout at the 2018 Toulon Tournament, one of John Herdman’s first forays with the Canadian program last summer, where he got a taste of some of the world’s best.
“France, Japan, Turkey, Portugal, these are big footballing countries,” recalled Verhoeven. “It was my first time seeing that. It was amazing to take it all in; show that we can compete with them.
“We ended up doing better than projected, showed everybody that Canada can play, that we’re not afraid to show our new style,” recounted the teenager, who scored the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Turkey. “We’re not going to sit and defend the whole time. We’re going to keep the ball and actually play football against you.
“I think we shocked some of the other countries. It was great.”
Come October, there is a big international event Verhoeven has set in his sights: The 2019 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship.
“Any time you get to represent your country is a blessing,” Verhoeven said. “But to be able to do it in a tournament or qualifying, Olympics. That’s what you live for, what you play for.
“It’s an amazing opportunity and I would love to be a part of it.”
While he dreams of international football, his club efforts have caught the eye of his more experienced teammates at Pacific, including well-travelled striker Marcus Haber.
“All of (the youngsters have impressed me) to be fair,” Haber said. “They’re all quite good technically. But if one had to stand out: Noah.
“He’s technically gifted, he’s got all the ability. It’s just about harnessing it as a first team player, but if I look at him in training, he glides with the ball, he’s very difficult to get the ball off, doesn’t give it away often. I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”
Verhoeven is relishing the chance to soak in all that Haber has to impart, too: “Being around him is a dream come true. When I was younger, I was looking up to him as one of the only Canadian players to be in Europe. And now I’m playing with him.
“He’s amazing to be around. Off the pitch, such a good guy – down to earth, humble; on the pitch, everything from his technique to tactically, which runs he’s making, he’s brilliant,” continued Verhoeven. “Playing underneath or behind him, finding that eye contact, knowing that we’re on the same page, trying to work off of his movements; find places where I can help him score or create chances together as a unit.
“I’ve learned a lot from him so far, but it’ll get better as the season goes on.”
The list of exciting, young Canadian talents has been growing in recent years; his is a name to add to that tally.
“I’m capable of showing more than I have in the past,” said Verhoeven, who, despite his age, leads PFC into Tim Hortons Field Wednesday night. “I have the opportunity now with the CPL to show what I’m capable of, bring everything to the table, make a step to Europe, or do whatever I want with it.
“Maybe under the radar, but everybody has their own path. I’m just looking forward to where I am right now; ready to bring everything I can to Pacific.”