Preview: Whitecaps FC U-23 wrap-up road stretch against Washington Crossfire
VANCOUVER, BC- After going unbeaten this past weekend in a pair of United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) matches, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (4W-3L-1D) will look to continue their fine form in a mid-week bout versus Washington Crossfire (1W-3L-1D).
The ‘Caps will take on the Crossfire on Wednesday night to conclude a five-game stretch of road matches. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT at Redmond High School in Redmond, Washington.
WHITECAPS FC U-23
The Blue and White are coming off of a strong weekend across the border. On Friday, the 'Caps defeated North Sound SeaWolves FC in a 3-2 thriller. Entering the 74th minute, Vancouver trailed 2-1 before equalizing through Harry Lakhan. Michael Winter then grabbed a late winner for Whitecaps FC in stoppage time to complete the comeback.
On Saturday, the ‘Caps were able to overcome an enthusiastic home crowd at Bremerton Memorial Stadium on home opening weekend for Kitsap Pumas to earn a well-deserved 2-2 draw. The two leading scorers for Whitecaps FC U-23 both got on the scoresheet, as Harry Lakhan netted his fifth of the year while Niall Cousens scored his sixth.
The results lifted Vancouver into a tie for second place in the Northwest division with 13 points, however Victoria Highlanders FC stay above the ‘Caps on goal difference.
Head coach Stuart Neely is preparing his team for another tough encounter against a division rival and is hoping his boys end their string of road matches on a high note.
“It’s another road match, we’re looking at it being another physical hard fought game, as all games within this division are,” said Neely. “They lost to Victoria but they beat Portland, so they’ve got quality in the side. The crazy part about all these games is that any team can beat any other team on any given day, so we’re really looking forward to the match.”
This is the first time Whitecaps FC have met the Crossfire this year.
Last season, Washington qualified for the Western Conference quarterfinals by finishing fourth in the Northwest division. They were eventually eliminated by Seattle Sounders FC U-23 by a score of 3-1.
The Crossfire have had a rocky 2013 PDL season thus far under new player-coach Nik Besagno. The club have only one win in five games, a 1-0 triumph that came at the expense of first-place Portland Timbers U-23 last week.
Crossfire’s mediocre start to the season can be attributed to their lack of scoring. As a team, they’ve only scored twice in five games. In comparison, Whitecaps FC U-23 have 19 goals in 8 games.
“They’re obviously a somewhat defensive-minded team,” Neely noted. “But it doesn’t negate the fact that if you’re not prepared for any sort of counterattack you could be in trouble. They’re going to be stingy defensively and look to counterattack whenever possible.”
Vancouver hold a record of 2W-6L-0D all-time against their Washington counterparts. Last season, the two teams split their two meetings, with each team winning on their home field; the ‘Caps shut out the Crossfire 4-0 at Simon Fraser University before Washington edged Vancouver 2-1 in the return match across the border.
After Wednesday’s match, the ‘Caps have a nine-day layoff before their next match. Whitecaps FC U-23 return home on June 21 to face their Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders FC U-23. That match will kickoff at 7 p.m. PT at Thunderbird Stadium.