On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in East Vancouver, BC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (3W-1L-2D) defeated British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC (2W-2L-2D) 2-1 in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action on Bell Pitch at Empire Field.
Coming into the match, the two BC rivals were statistically tied for third place in the PDL's Western Conference, Northwest Division standings. Long Tan changed all that on Sunday, as he entered the match near the hour mark before scoring the winning goal on 88 minutes with a blistering strike to extend the Residency team's unbeaten PDL streak to an impressive five matches.
The 'Caps were again the dominant side, as they had the majority of the possession throughout the contest. Whitecaps FC fired 13 shots at Highlanders FC goalkeeper Trevor Stiles, who was forced to make three saves on the afternoon. Despite being offensively snake-bitten in the past few matches, the young 'Caps attack were able to finish at the most critical moment to steal all three points in the third game of a four-match PDL home stand.
The action began on 19 minutes when Highlanders FC defender Marco Voegeli again brought his offensive genius to the table, as he played a fine cross from the right flank to Jamar Dixon in Vancouver's box. Dixon positioned himself perfectly for the header that floated over Residency goalkeeper Callum Irving’s fingertips and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Victoria lead.
The 'Caps would reply thanks to their own offensive creativity in midfield on 32 minutes. A marvellous bit of interplay saw Bryce Alderson pass to winger Ben Fisk. Fisk immediately played a quick ball to Carlos Marquez, who then sent striker Caleb Clarke in behind the Highlanders FC backline. Clarke's shot was deflected directly to Wesley Cain, who tapped home with ease in the six-yard box to even the match at 1-1.
In the second half, the Residency team made several substitutions to freshen up their side. In the 74th minute, a Victoria turnover in their backline saw Marquez intercept the weak pass and attack with numbers. He found sprinting substitute Yassin Essa with a through ball, which he placed underneath Stiles. However, as Stiles was diving to make the save, the assistant referee's flag immediately rose and the play was called for offside.
Victoria responded with a chance of their own on 85 minutes, as midfielder Robert Eng sent a lobbed pass over the ‘Caps backline that found a streaking Jordie Hughes. Hughes half-volleyed his strike perfectly, but was unable to control the height of his shot, sending the ball well over Irving’s head and the target.
Finally, after two other failed attempts to beat Stiles in the second half, Tan became Whitecaps FC's hero. After receiving a small pass in midfield from Daniel Stanese, Vancouver's MLS squad striker sprinted towards open space before taking a small touch and hitting an absolute rocket with his left foot from 35 yards out. As the ball dashed towards Stiles, the diving Highlanders FC shot-stopper was unable to make contact with his hands, as the ball disappeared into the net for a 2-1 Residency win - much to the appreciation of those in attendance at Empire Field.
With Sunday's victory, Whitecaps FC Residency move up to second place, eight points behind Northwest Division leaders Kitsap Pumas, with one game in hand. The Residency team now have a week to prepare for next Sunday's match, as they host defending PDL champions Portland Timbers U-23's at Empire Field at 3 p.m. PT. Victoria Highlanders FC, meanwhile, have back-to-back matches on the road next week. They face North Sound SeaWolves on Saturday before finishing up their weekend road trip at Tacoma Tide on Sunday evening.
19' - VIC – Jamar Dixon (Marco Voegeli)
32' - VAN – Wesley Cain
88’ – VAN – Long Tan (Daniel Stanese)
Shots: Victoria 7 – Vancouver 13
Saves: Victoria 3 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Victoria 20 – Vancouver 14
Offside: Victoria 4 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Victoria 3 – Vancouver 3
41’ – VIC – Ashley Burbeary
66’ – VIC – Jamar Dixon
68’ – VAN – Long Tan
76’ – VIC – Tyler Hughes
90’ – VAN – Declan Rodriguez
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
30.Callum Irving; 3.La’vere Corbin-Ong, 4.Daniel Stanese, 5.Derrick Bassi, 2.Declan Rodriquez; 8.Bryce Alderson (25.Alex Rowley 58’), 18.Ben McKendry, 10.Ben Fisk (22.Yassin Essa 66’); 24.Carolos Marquez; 11.Wesley Cain (16.Long Tan 58’), 9.Caleb Clarke
Subs not used: 1.Sean Melvin, 6.Matteo Pasquotti, 12.Tim Hickson, 20.Adam Polakiewicz
Victoria Highlanders FC
1.Trevor Stiles; 2.Max Wragg, 20.Marco Voegeli (9.Steve Scott 90’), 13.Tyler Hughes, 13.Jack Pearson; 18.Craig Taylor (12.Mike Marousek 28’), 14.Andrew Gray, 21.Stephen Ewashko (17.Jordie Hughes 43’), 11.Graig Gorman (15.Andrew Ravenhill 64’); 22.Jamar Dixon (8.Robert Eng 80’), 10.Ashley Burbeary
Subs not used: 29.Elliot Mitrou, 25.Toshi Hayashi