'Caps defeat TWU in preseason friendly


By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com

Vancouver Whitecaps FC continued their preparations towards the 2009 season with a 3-1 friendly win over Trinity Western University Spartans at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex on Friday afternoon.

Goals by Marlon James, Marcus Haber, and Alex Semenets gave Teitur Thordarson's side a positive conclusion to their latest training match, with the USL First Division champions completing the fourth week of their extensive preseason as a result. Only a very late TWU penalty denied both Jay Nolly and new Brazilian signing Diego from sharing a clean sheet in the Whitecaps goal.

Playing his preferred 4-4-2 formation, Thordarson handed starts to two trial players, with former Charleston Battery captain Marco Reda playing at centre back, while former Toronto FC midfielder Joey Melo partnered James in the Vancouver attack.

On a cool and windy Friday afternoon, the new turf surface at Burnaby Lake West Field #4 suited both sides, as they made a bright start to the contest. It was the Spartans that created the first chance of the match before the 'Caps Ansu Toure forced the TWU goalkeeper into a fine save with his fierce strike on six minutes. Two minutes later, James missed the target with a tight-angle drive.

The Blue & White took the lead on 17 minutes, as James headed home Vicente Arze's cross from the right at the far post for 1-0. Unfortunately, James lasted a few more minutes of action, as an injury meant Haber needed to replace the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines captain during the midway point of the first half.

The Spartans then went close with a free kick before Haber made an immediate impact by hitting the post with a volleyed strike on 32 minutes after Arze found the Canadian U-20 international with a forward ball in the TWU box. Five minutes later, Haber glanced a header wide of goal after fine work by Toure allowed the Liberian winger to cross from the left. Haber had another chance just before halftime, but he had to wait until after the break to find the scoresheet.

Despite four changes being made at the interval, Thordarson's side went on to dominate the second half, with Tyrell Burgess going close with an opportunity on 52 minutes before Justin Thompson was unable to redirect Martin Nash's free kick on target three minutes later.

Then after 2008 USL-1 Championship Final Most Valuable Player Charles Gbeke missed two chances around the hour mark, Haber made it 2-0 with a 25-yard strike that found the bottom corner of the Spartans goal on 61 minutes.

The 'Caps were in control of the friendly match at this stage, with Toure striking the woodwork and Ethan Gage having his shot saved by the TWU keeper. Luca Bellisomo was also unlucky not to score late on, but Semenets ensured a Vancouver win on 87 minutes when he finished off a fine Whitecaps attacking move for 3-0.

Though TWU received the consolation of a late goal from the penalty spot, the Whitecaps ran out deserved winners, as they continue to build towards their USL-1 season opener versus Charleston at Swangard Stadium on April 11.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC men - line-up v Trinity Western University Spartans (Preseason friendly)
Jay Nolly (Diego 45'); Mason Trafford (Takashi Hirano 67'), Marco Reda (Luca Bellisomo 73'), Wesley Charles (Justin Thompson 45'), Wes Knight (Lyle Martin 64'); Ansu Toure (Alex Semenets 73'), Kenold Versailles (Ethan Gage 59'), Martin Nash (Philippe Davies 73'), Vicente Arze (Tyrell Burgess 45'); Joey Melo (Charles Gbeke 45'), Marlon James (Marcus Haber 23')