Vancouver Whitecaps tame the Atlanta Silverbacks, 2-0 - The Vancouver Sun
A moment of magic from Lyle Martin set the Whitecaps up for a win which took them top of the USL First Division Wednesday night.
The midfielder sparked euphoric celebration from the Swangard faithful in the 35th minute when he cut inside an Atlanta defender and unleashed an unstoppable shot from just inside the penalty area.
It was Martin's first goal for the Whitecaps in his 47th game and the relief was obvious as he sprinted away in delight before engaging in a spell of Usain Bolt-like dancing - later described by the player as the 'B-town shake'.
Top scorer Eduardo Sebrango sealed the victory with his 11th goal of the season after the break, but the night belonged to Martin.
"Finally," he joked afterwards. "Two seasons, 18 shots and I finally get a goal!"
"I guess it was an alright kind of strike," Martin added modestly, "and the celebration was for everybody back in Bakersfield [his home-town in California]. It's called the B-town shake."
Vancouver's win takes them above title rivals Puerto Rico - and sets them up nicely for their road trip, which sees them fly out today to tackle the Islanders twice in the space of six days, starting Sunday.
Buoyed by the news they will soon be joined by a trio of roster-freeze-day signings - forward Marlon James, defender Cornelius Huggins and goalkeeper Tyler Baldock - the Whitecaps made a lively start, forcing a flurry of corners inside the opening 15 minutes.
Twice the flag-kicks almost reaped reward, Nick Addlery blasting over after Sebrango had flicked on an Alfredo Valente delivery and Omar Jarun heading inches wide from another Valente inswinger.
Vancouver continued to dominate, but Addlery's smart control and lay-off in the 23rd minute, followed by a weak, intercepted return from Sebrango, summed up the home side's lack of sharpness in the final third.
However, it all changed 10 minutes before the break, when Martin's moment of magic shook the game from a temporary slumber.
Defender Wes Charles intercepted a stray Atlanta pass and then launched a ball towards the head of Sebrango.
The Cuban forward's flick-on fell nicely into the path of Martin who controlled, cut inside a defender and planted a purring shot into the top corner.
Right on half-time Sebrango muscled his way into a promising position, but could only shoot into the side-netting from an acute angle.
The home side maintained their momentum after the break, Sebrango screwing a shot wide from a good position, before former Whitecap Jason McLaughlin was inches too high for Atlanta with an audacious 40-yard effort.
Vancouver had a setback when defender Charles was stretchered off in the 53rd minute, but Jeff Clarke - who'd replaced Mason Trafford at half-time - seamlessly moved back from midfield and the addition of Steve Kindel brought some added zip.
Sebrango finally put the result beyond any real doubt when he latched onto substitute Vicente Arze's cross and hit a shot-on-the-turn, which bounced over the line via Atlanta 'keeper Felipe Quintero's glove and the crossbar.
After that, Martin Nash grazed a post and substitutes Justin Moose and Randy Edwini-Bonsu both went close to making the victory more clear-cut, but Whitecaps fans still poured out of Swangard with a collective spring in their step.
© Vancouver Sun