By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com
Vancouver Whitecaps FC claimed their fifth preseason victory after a 4-0 win over Seattle University Redhawks in Tsawwassen, BC, on Sunday.
Two goals by Charles Gbeke helped Teitur Thordarson's side to a comfortable result over their NCAA Division I counterparts. Gbeke's strike partner Marlon James and trialist Tyler Rosenlund also got on the scoresheet during the late afternoon friendly at Tsawwassen's Winskill Park. Sunday's match was the sixth consecutive Whitecaps preseason game to be hosted by the Tsawwassen Soccer Club.
The sunny, spring-like conditions saw several hundred spectators take in the match, with the Blue and White less than two weeks away from the start of their USL First Division championship defence. It was also Thordarson's first game in charge since returning back to the Lower Mainland following the team's preseason trip to Tanzania and the recent wedding of his daughter in Paris, France.
Playing in his usual 4-4-2 formation, the Icelandic tactician gave trialist Jeff Parke a start versus the Redhawks, as the former New York Red Bulls defender partnered Marco Reda in the centre of the Vancouver backline. Fellow trialist Gordon Chin also came into the starting XI to partner captain Martin Nash in central midfield.
The 'Caps made a bright start to the match on the Winskill Park turf, as they applied early pressure on their Washington State opponents. In fact, the match-winning goal came on 11 minutes, as Gbeke converted from close range after James muscled past his Seattle University marker in the Redhawks box before setting up the Canadian international with his pass.
Seattle University's best player during the friendly was goalkeeper Emerson DeOliveira. The Normandy Park, Washington, native was kept busy for much of the game, as he made a string of fine saves to deny the 'Caps during the 90 minutes. The first of those stops came on the quarter-hour mark, as DeOliveira did well to stop Gbeke's header following Chin's dangerous cross from the right-hand side.
A minute later, a rare Seattle University opportunity was easily dealt with by Whitecaps number one Jay Nolly, as he dove to block Sean Morris' free kick strike. For the most part, Brad Agoos' side struggled to create many chances throughout the match, with the Redhawks having just one substitute at their disposal during the match.
Predictably, Vancouver were the side that looked more likely to score again, though James was unable to make the most of several opportunities, including a close-range misconnection to Vicente Arze's low cross on 34 minutes. DeOliveira then denied the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international with another good save at the striker's feet on 40 minutes before blocking away Ansu Toure's fine run and shot two minutes later.
In spite of their dominance, the Whitecaps had to settle for a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The start of the second half saw Thordarson replace Chin with former Toronto FC midfielder Rosenlund. On 48 minutes, DeOliveira made an outstanding save to deny James' downward header from Toure's fine cross from the left.
Two minutes later, however, James would double the Whitecaps lead when he lobbed Nash's forward ball past DeOliveira to delight the onlooking Tsawwassen crowd. A minute after making it 2-0, James should have had his second goal of the match. Though he was left unmarked in front of goal, the Caribbean marksman drilled his shot wide after Toure had again found the striker in the Seattle University box.
Arze then forced another DeOliveira save with a far-post header on 56 minutes before Toure flashed a shot across the face of the Redhawks goal during the midway point of the half.
On 68 minutes, Brazilian shot-stopper Diego replaced Nolly in the Whitecaps goal before seeing his side increase their advantage four minutes later. Rosenlund played a fine give-and-go with Nash on the edge of the Seattle University box before striking a shot past a diving DeOliveira and into the low left-hand corner of the goal for 3-0.
The Redhawks looked a tired side at this stage, though DeOliveira and his teammates pulled off some defensive heroics on 80 minutes to deny Toure, Rosenlund, and Nash from scoring Vancouver's fourth goal.
Two minutes later, however, Gbeke would strike goal number four, as good work down the right-hand side from substitute Tyrell Burgess allowed the former Montreal Impact forward to put home his second goal of the match.
There was even enough time for Gbeke to hit the crossbar with a header from Toure's cross on 88 minutes, while substitutes Marcus Haber and Luca Bellisomo also missed opportunities shortly before the final whistle.
Thordarson was pleased with his team's latest effort. "I thought it was quite a good game, actually. We created a lot of chances and could have scored so many more goals today," he told whitecapsfc.com. "What I'm really happy with is how solid we are defensively right now. We've had a very interesting preseason with the variety of games we have played. The matches we've played this preseason have been of a higher quality than this time last year, so I'm pleased with that. Our last preseason game is against Portland and we are looking forward to that next week."
The result improves the Whitecaps record to five wins, two defeats, and a draw this preseason. Thordarson's squad conclude their preseason schedule this Friday, as they host USL-1 rivals Portland Timbers at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex. *Please note that Wednesday's scheduled friendly versus USL Premier Development League side Seattle Wolves FC has been canceled.*
11' – 1-0 VAN – Charles Gbeke (Marlon James)
50' – 2-0 VAN – Marlon James (Martin Nash)
72' – 3-0 VAN – Tyler Rosenlund (Martin Nash)
82' – 4-0 VAN – Charles Gbeke (Tyrell Burgess)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Jay Nolly (Diego 68'); Takashi Hirano, Marco Reda (Mason Trafford 63'), Jeff Parke, Wes Knight (Luca Bellisomo 59'); Ansu Toure, Martin Nash, Gordon Chin (Tyler Rosenlund 46'), Vicente Arze (Tyrell Burgess 59'); Charles Gbeke, Marlon James (Marcus Haber 68')