METRO VANCOUVER — Charles Gbeke scored in his 50th game with Vancouver, but it was a pair of former Whitecaps that stole the show on Saturday night at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby.
Steve Kindel set up Ze Roberto in the 80th minute as the Rochester Rhinos held the Whitecaps to an all-important 1-1 draw to maintain sole possession of fifth place in the United Soccer Leagues First Division.
While disappointed with the outcome, the Whitecaps did extended their undefeated streak to five games. With the point, Vancouver (8-9-8) remains in possession of the seventh and final playoff spot, three points back of Rochester. Next up for Vancouver, who will play three of its final five regular-season games at home, is the expansion Austin Aztex at Swangard on Wednesday.
Gbeke opened the scoring in the 66th minute, deflecting Wes Knight's throw-in with his shoulder to give the striker four goals in three games and nine on the season. Kindel, who was making his first return to Swangard since being released by the Whitecaps in the off-season, made his presence felt shortly thereafter, feeding a nifty cross to Ze Roberto, who headed the ball past Jay Nolly in the Vancouver net.
Saturday's match was the third and final regular-season meeting between Vancouver and Rochester, with the two teams splitting the season series 1-1-1. The Whitecaps still lead the overall series with a record of eight wins, seven defeats, and three draws.
A sold-out crowd of 5,288 took in the game on a picture-postcard night. It's the ninth straight sellout and the 10th of the season, tying a franchise record set in 1987, the team's first at the Burnaby stadium.
The Whitecaps were without striker Maron James and winger Justin Moose for the game. James is set to start training again this week, and is expected to be available for Vancouver's home date against Austin Aztex on Wednesday night. Moose hopes to return to training next week after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a foot injury.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun