Bryce Alderson has never enjoyed the heat.
WHO: Los Angeles Blues vs. Charleston Battery
WHEN: 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Blackbaud Stadium
OK, truth be told, the Charleston Battery midfielder hates hot weather. Growing up in Kitchener, Ontario, about 65 miles west of Toronto in the Saint Lawrence Lowlands, there were only a handful of days each summer when the temperature would break the 80-degree mark.
Playing the last two seasons in Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps organization hasn’t helped Alderson in his acclimation to what he has experienced this summer in Charleston. Since late May, the Battery has either practiced or played in conditions that would be considered a heat wave in his hometown.
“I struggle in the heat, I’ve never enjoyed playing when it’s hot,” Alderson said. “It’s something that I’ve had to kind of deal with my whole life. To come down to South Carolina in my first real professional season where it’s really hot all the time has been a challenge for me. I love the city, Charleston is so beautiful, but I just wish it wasn’t so hot all the time.”
When Battery teammates remind Alderson that this summer has been especially mild by Lowcountry standards, he can only roll his eyes.
“In Ontario, we’ll get a few days when it’ll get up to 85, but we never get anything like this and the humidity is unbelievable,” Alderson said. “I think the humidity is the toughest part for me personally.”
Alderson, 19, is on a year-long loan from the Whitecaps. He came to Charleston with an impressive resume, having been named the Canadian U-17 player of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Alderson also captained the Canadian U-17 team at the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 championships and the 2011 FIFIA U-17 World Cup.
“Bryce has played at a very high level during his amateur career,” said Charleston coach Mike Anhaeuser. “His resume speaks for itself. I know the Whitecaps are very high on Bryce and want to get him as much game experience as he can with us.”
Besides the weather, the hard-working midfielder also arrived on Daniel Island in late April with some lingering tendinitis in his knee, which slowed his progress at the beginning of the season.
“When I left Vancouver I was finally healthy, but I wasn’t match fit, not even close to where I needed to be, and it took me a couple of weeks to get back my fitness level,” Alderson said. “It’s only been in the last couple of weeks that I’ve finally felt fit and match sharp.”
Alderson has played in 11 games, spending most of his time in the center midfield. The last two games, Alderson has been moved out on the wing and has responded with two solid performances.
“We’re still trying to figure out what Bryce’s best position is,” Anhaeuser said. “He’s been a center midfielder for most of his life. He’s been the guy on his team, but we’ve got a lot of talented players in that position. We moved him outside and he’s done very well.”
Alderson’s strength is on the ball, dribbling and creating scoring chances not only for himself but for his teammates.
“He has that little bit of quality when he’s got the ball on his feet,” Anhaeuser said. “He has a great left foot, and the last two games he has made some quality crosses into the box from the wing. He’s just been a bit unlucky in that he hasn’t scored yet this season. He’s come so close, I know it’s only a matter of time.”
Alderson believes that playing with the Battery instead of the Whitecaps reserve team will help his development in the long run.
“When you’re playing reserve games, you’re really only out there for yourself,” Alderson said. “Winning and losing isn’t that important. But playing with the Battery, I’m part of a team and our goal is to win. I’m playing in meaningful games, and that’s only going to help me as my career moves forward.”