Monday, April 14, 2008
The 2006 USL First Division champion Vancouver Whitecaps ended a seven-game, 10-year scoring and winless drought at home against their Canadian rival Montreal Impact Saturday night with a 1-0 victory in the second of two games that marked opening night. Earlier, the Charleston Battery and Miami FC played to a 2-2 draw on a rainy evening in South Florida.
Eduardo Sebrango's fine first-half strike against his old club gave the Whitecaps their first home win against Montreal since August 21, 1996. Though they had to deal with some heavy Impact pressure at times, Vancouver held on for a morale-boosting win in their season opener at Swangard Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,288.
In his first competitive game as Whitecaps head coach, Teitur Thordarson gave goalkeeper Srdjan Djekanovic his first-ever competitive start for his hometown club after returning to the Whitecaps from Major League Soccer side Toronto FC. New signings Nicholas Addlery, Vicente Arze, and Takashi Hirano all made the starting 11.
Impact head coach Nick De Santis, meanwhile, gave three former Whitecaps players in midfielders Joey Gjertsen and David Testo, as well as striker Charles Gbeke a start against their former club. Also making Montreal's starting 11 was defender Adam Braz at right fullback, who like Djekanovic, returned to the Impact this season after spending 2007 with Toronto FC.
The Whitecaps took the lead in controversial circumstances on 33 minutes. Sebrango took a pass from Kindel, and as the Cuban striker collided and knocked over Impact defender Nevio Pizzolitto, referee Steve Deperio allowed play to carry on. Sebrango worked his way into the box before unleashing an unstoppable right-foot shot into the low corner of Jordan's goal.
Vancouver then had the ball in the back of Montreal's net again late in the half, but Gabriel Gervais' own-goal was called back after Addlery was deemed to be in an offside position in front of Jordan's goal.
In Miami, it was a pair of newcomers that left their marks on the opening game of the USL First Division season, the debut of 1994 Brazilian World Cup champion Zinho as head coach of the Blues.
Alex Afonso, a marquee addition fresh from Zinho's homeland, opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a nice header past veteran USL-1 netminder Dusty Hudock off a Leandro Mineiro cross.
Charleston fought back, but could not find an equalizer until the 63rd minute.
Midfielder Darren Spicer pulled the ball back to Dominic Cianciarulo, a rookie from the Carolina Dynamo and Furman University, at the edge of the box and he hit a stinging first-time shot into the left corner of the goal.
Miami went ahead again with five minutes remaining. Forward Sean Fraser dribbled in from the left side. He cut the ball onto his right foot and fired a curling shot just inside the far post.
As the game drew to a close the Battery threw numbers forward and were rewarded with a goal in stoppage time. Miami failed to clear properly from a corner kick and Cianciarulo was the first to react. He pounced onto the loose ball and smashed a shot into the left side of the goal.