In their second United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (PDL) match of 2011, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (1W-1L-0D) defeated Abbotsford Mariners (0W-1L-0D) 2-1 on Friday evening.
Alexandre Morfaw scored both goals for the home side on Bell Pitch at Empire Field, as the young 'Caps claimed their first win in the PDL Western Conference, Northwest Division this season. Though Mark McQuade scored a late consolation for the Mariners, the Residency team were full value for the win.
The young 'Caps fielded a very strong squad that included four members of the club's Major League Soccer roster. This included Michael Nanchoff, who was making his first competitive appearance with a Whitecaps FC team after missing the entire MLS preseason with a groin injury. Morfaw, fellow midfielder Philippe Davies, and goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre also took part in Friday's match.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten was pleased with his team’s effort. "I saw a lot of good things, but we can learn a lot from moments in the last 15 minutes, where we almost gave the game away," the Dutchman told whitecapsfc.com. "Yet, we deserved to win, as we were absolutely better. We had some guys from the first team coming back from injuries and hadn’t played a lot. Michael played his first game in almost a year, so it was good to see him."
The Mariners had the game's first opportunity in the 10th minute when Danfi Parker led Sasa Plavsic into the 'Caps box with a good pass before firing the ball wide of the target. Moments later, Parker continued his offensive playmaking with a byline pass to Spencer MacKinnon, who then missed the net with a low strike.
The energy from the visitors seemed to awaken the Residency squad. On 16 minutes, Davies played a ball forward to attacking winger Cornelius Stewart. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international the found Morfaw inside the Mariners box, where he drove home his first-ever PDL goal past Abbotsford goalkeeper Lucas Menz.
Sylvestre then made a couple key saves to keep Vancouver in the lead. On 24 minutes, Abbotsford's Ethan Claibourne-Collins took an attempt from the edge the 'Caps box that was easily saved by the United States U-20 international before he collected a Plavsic header moments later.
The Residency team responded on 35 minutes, as crisp passing allowed La'Vere Corbin-Ong to cross a dangerous ball that nearly found Doudou Toure at the far post. A minute later, 'Caps youngster Bryce Alderson drilled a shot just wide of the target. Then just before halftime, Toure headed Nanchoff's corner right off the crossbar from close range. It meant the home side held a one-goal advantage at the break.
Grootscholten's squad came out with energy to start the second half, looking to build on their opening half's efforts. Just minutes after the restart, Stewart made some impressive moves to beat Abbotsford's Kyle Knees before the Mariners left fullback pulled him down for a penalty. Morfaw took the penalty and chose correctly, putting his left-footed spot kick into the open side of the net for a 2-0 Residency lead on 49 minutes.
Looking for a way back into the match, the Mariners had some opportunities to score throughout the second half, but nothing to threatening. They seemingly earned a lifeline on 84 minutes when match referee Alain Ruch awarded Abbotsford a penalty after 'Caps defender Derrick Bassi handled the ball in his own box. Mohammad Aziz took the spot kick, but Sylvestre did brilliantly to stop the Mariners captain with a diving save to his left.
The visitors would score a consolation in time added on at the end of the match, as McQuade snuck down the left flank and placed a beautiful strike into the top left-hand corner of Sylvestre's goal to make it 2-1.
After a couple more interesting moments in time added on, Whitecaps FC Residency held on to claim their first PDL victory of the year.
Up next for the Residency squad is a trip to Vancouver Island to face another British Columbia rival in Victoria Highlanders FC next Saturday evening. Grootscholten added that his side's next game is an important one, with a big crowd predicted at Victoria's Bear Mountain Stadium home. "Give me a big crowd, that’s not a problem because that’s what our players have to learn," he said. "A lot of guys are not used to a big atmosphere, so it will be new for a lot of guys in our group."
Abbotsford's next PDL match is also against Highlanders FC at home this Sunday afternoon.
16' - VAN - Alexandre Morfaw (Cornelius Stewart)
49' - VAN - Alexandre Morfaw (penalty)
90 + 3' - ABB - Mark McQuade (Daniel Lowen)
Shots: Vancouver 13 - Abbotsford 13
Saves: Vancouver 1 - Abbotsford 5
Fouls: Vancouver 14 - Abbotsford 13
Offsides: Vancouver 6 - Abbotsford 4
Corners: Vancouver 4 - Abbotsford 2
91'+ - ABB - Chase Wickham
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
30.Brian Sylvestre; 2.Declan Rodriguez, 3.La'Vere Corbin-Ong, 4.Daniel Stanese, 5.Derrick Bassi; 7.Cornelius Stewart (11.Wesley Cain 71'), 15.Philippe Davies, 8.Bryce Alderson (6.Matteo Pasquotti 82'), 17.Michael Nanchoff (10.Ben Fisk 63'); 16.Alexandre Morfaw (24.Carlos Marquez 77'), 21.Doudou Toure (9.Caleb Clarke 63')
Subs not used: 1.Callum Irving, 18.Ben McKendry
1.Lucas Menz; 3.Colton O'Neill, 5.Mohammad Aziz, 6.Brent Wantke, 17.Kyle Knees; 9.Chase Wickham, 4.Spencer MacKinnon, 19.Mynor Campos Jr (21.Adriano Negri 68'), 12.Ethan Claibourne-Collins (7.David Vanderhoek 75'); 10.Danfi Parker (11.Mark McQuade 86'), 8.Sasa Plavsic (18.Daniel Lowen 45')
Subs not used: 22.Andrew Kowan, 2.Cody Strelau, 15.James Farenhorst