On a beautiful, sunny Friday evening in East Vancouver, BC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (2W-1L-2D) were held to a 1-1 home draw by Tacoma Tide (0W-2L-3D) in the fifth match of their United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) season.
Having recently returned from a Canadian U-17 national team training camp in Sunrise, Florida, striker Yassin Essa dominated the entire match for the Residency team, as he scored Vancouver's only goal in the 45th minute to help the young 'Caps extend their unbeaten streak in the PDL to four matches. Though the Residency side dominated proceedings on Bell Pitch at Empire Field, a late hand ball in the 'Caps box allowed Tacoma midfielder Daniel Gray to beat 'Caps goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre from the penalty spot and earn the Tide a valuable point on the road.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten was pleased with the effort of his side, but knows they need to create more chances in order to close out victories. "It felt like we had 80 per cent possession and we didn’t give anything away defensively, but our offence wasn’t good enough in their third of the pitch. You have to score more goals than one," he told whitecapsfc.com.
Bryce Alderson, who also returned from the recent Canadian U-17 training camp, was another key player in the match. The Kitchener, Ontario, native featured in a more defensive midfield role that saw him consistently win possession and start the 'Caps attacking forays, helping build pressure up the pitch and create scoring chances.
The opening half saw Whitecaps FC dominate possession right from the start. The Residency team were able to choose their plan of attack with relative ease, favouring the left flank by using Ben Fisk to cross balls into forwards Essa and Caleb Clarke. On the quarter-hour mark, Fisk whipped a ball into the Tacoma box that found Essa in a dangerous area. The Ethiopian-born attacker took a touch before firing the ball over the Tide crossbar.
Only seconds before the halftime whistle, the Residency team took the lead when Essa’s shot deflected off a Tacoma defender and slipped past Tide goalkeeper Jordan Jennings for a 1-0 'Caps lead. The goal was well deserved and appeared it would be all that Vancouver needed to claim all three points at home.
In the second half, the Residency team continued their aggressive play, controlling the match with numerous scoring opportunities that were contained by Jennings. Essa nearly gave the 'Caps the insurance goal they needed on 71 minutes. The impressive forward received a pass and cut across the middle of the pitch, dancing at Tide defenders before firing a left-footed strike at Jennings. The Tacoma keeper made a spectacular save, pushing the ball away before the Tide backline cleared the danger.
With little action occurring throughout the second half, it appeared as though Whitecaps FC would earn their third PDL victory of the campaign, but an unlucky hand ball decision on Residency substitute Tim Hickson resulted in an 89th-minute penalty from Gray and a 1-1 draw.
Even with the disappointing home result, Grootscholten still thinks his side are developing well. "We are absolutely better. If you compare this performance with two months ago, this is so much better," he noted.
Whitecaps FC Residency immediately return to PDL action on Sunday afternoon versus BC rivals Victoria Highlanders FC. Kickoff at Empire Field is set for 3 p.m. PT. Tacoma will also have a short rest, as they travel to the Fraser Valley for an away match with Abbotsford Mariners.
45+' - VAN - Yassin Essa
89' - TAC - Daniel Gray (penalty)
Shots: Tacoma 5 – Vancouver 24
Saves: Tacoma 7 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Tacoma 9 – Vancouver 7
Offside: Tacoma 4 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Tacoma 0 – Vancouver 4
83’ – VAN – Ben McKendry
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
30.Brian Sylvestre; 3.La’vere Corbin-Ong, 4.Daniel Stanese, 5.Derrick Bassi, 2.Declan Rodriquez (12.Tim Hickson 78'); 8.Bryce Alderson (25.Alex Rowley 67’), 18.Ben McKendry, 15.Philippe Davies (13.Spencer DeBoice 28’), 10.Ben Fisk; 22.Yassin Essa, 9.Caleb Clarke (16.Long Tan 61’)
Subs not used: 1.Callum Irving; 20.Adam Polakiewicz, 24.Carlos Marquez
1.Jordan Jennings; 2.Brandon Henry, 12.Anthony Armitage, 7.Sean Foss, 8.Steve Pirotte; 17.Quinn Grisham (22.Austin Kelley 72’), 23.Facundo Dispasquale, 11.Daniel Gray, 4. Cameron Vickers; 20.Ivan Popov (13.Michael Uyerhara 53’), 6.Chase Tangney (21.Max Thomas 72’)
Subs not used: 3.Devin Thomas, 5. Adam Bettencourt