Friday afternoon saw Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (5W-3L-2D) claim a 3-1 home victory over Victoria Highlanders FC (6W-4L-2D) in a United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) match-up at Minoru Park in Richmond, BC.
The Canada Day clash between these British Columbia rivals was the third and final meeting between the teams this season, with the young 'Caps trailing Highlanders FC by six points in the PDL Western Conference, Northwest Division standings, while holding two games in hand.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten was pleased to welcome back five regulars to his starting line-up who had been away on duty with Canada’s entry at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. As well as the returnees, Philippe Davies, Alexandre Morfaw, Bryan Sylvestre, and Long Tan were made available from the club's Major League Soccer roster and provided some much needed spark to a Whitecaps FC squad that had gone winless in their last two PDL matches.
A sunny holiday afternoon set the stage for the action, and both teams did not disappoint. Early action saw both teams eager for the first goal, with the first chance for the 'Caps coming on eight minutes when Morfaw sent a curling free kick into the box that was aggressively punched away by Highlanders FC goalkeeper Trevor Stiles.
Tan had a glorious opportunity for the Residency team on 19 minutes after a brilliant run and a right-footed crack that could not find the target. It was the Chinese striker once again causing havoc around the Highlanders FC goal on 27 minutes when Stiles and Victoria defender Paul van den Boomen suffered from a momentary miscommunication that resulted in the ball ending up in the back of the net for an own-goal.
Tan continued his fine form on 33 minutes with a flick on to the foot of Davies, who played it through to a streaking Fisk, who finished with ease for a 2-0 Vancouver lead.
Just three minutes later, van den Boomen atoned for his earlier gaffe by getting on the end of a corner from Ashley Burbeary and heading it past Sylvestre for a quick Highlanders FC reply. Victoria sustained their attack for the rest of the half, highlighted by a left-footed attempt from midfielder Michael Marousek that just missed the top corner.
The second half started much the same way, as Victoria pushed for the equalizer and nearly found it when midfielder Jordie Hughes had a go at goal on 47 minutes, which Sylvestre watched fly just wide.
As the 'Caps looked to extend their lead, Tan was shown a red card on 58 minutes after not taking kindly to a challenge that saw him taken down, as he made a run into the Highlanders FC box. Playing down a man, the Residency team shored up their backline, leaning on captain Derrick Bassi and midfielder Bryce Alderson to protect the lead going into the final half-hour of the contest.
Putting forth a concerned defensive effort, Whitecaps FC managed to weather the Victoria attack down the home stretch and were rewarded in extra time when Morfaw set up substitute Caleb Clarke for the insurance marker and a 3-1 final score.
Grootscholten was quick to complement his squad’s effort against an older and more physical opponent from Vancouver Island, especially the strong start that saw the home side open up a two-goal lead. "We played well, especially in the first 30 minutes," the Dutchman told whitecapsfc.com. "It was a good lesson when we were ahead 2-0 and let them back in the match, but then managed to score the third one which was a fantastic goal. It was good to score the two goals after the chances we've had the last few games, so overall, I'm very pleased."
Whitecaps FC Residency's next PDL action sees them head back to the Fraser Valley for another PDL meeting with BC rivals Abbotsford Mariners at Bateman Park on Monday night. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT.
27' - VAN - Long Tan
33' - VAN - Ben Fisk (Philippe Davies)
36' - VIC - Paul van den Boomen (Ashley Burbeary)
90+' - VAN - Caleb Clarke (Alexandre Morfaw)
Shots: Victoria 12 – Vancouver 5
Saves: Victoria 1 – Vancouver 3
Fouls: Victoria 26 – Vancouver 17
Offsides: Victoria 5 – Vancouver 4
Corners: Victoria 6 – Vancouver 1
63’ – VIC – Jack Pearson
74’ – VAN – Declan Rodriguez
84’ – VAN - Ben McKendry
87’ – VIC – Andrew Gray
58’ - VAN - Long Tan
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
30.Bryan Sylvestre; 5.Derrick Bassi, 4.Daniel Stanese, 3.La'Vere Corbin-Ong, 2.Declan Rodriguez; 17.Alexandre Morfaw, 8.Bryce Alderson, 16.Phillipe Davies (9.Caleb Clarke 62'); 22.Yassin Essa (25.Alex Rowley 71'), 15.Long Tan, 10.Ben Fisk (18.Ben McKendry 75')
Subs not used: 1.Sean Melvin, 13.Spencer DeBoice, 19.Jason van Blerk, 24.Carlos Marquez
Victoria Highlanders FC
1.Trevor Stiles; 2.Maxwell Wragg, 13.Tyler Hughes, 5.Jack Pearson, 3.Paul van den Boomen; 14.Andrew Gray, 12.Mike Marousek (21.Stephen Ewashko 45'), 22.Jamar Dixon, 17.Jordie Hughes; 10.Ashley Burbeary, 19.Jared Stephens (18.Farhad Abdulgani 73')
Subs not used: 29.Eliot Mitrou, 23.Toshi Hayashi, 15.Andrew Ravenhill, 8.Bobby Eng, 9.Steve Scott