On a clear evening under the lights of Swangard Stadium, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 began their 2012 United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) campaign with a thrilling 3-0 win against reigning champions Kitsap Pumas.
From opening kickoff, it was a gritty affair with many exchanges of possession between both sides and quick interplay in midfield. However, it was the ‘Caps who came out with a brighter start; following a cleared set-piece in the Pumas’ half, Yassin Essa sent in a threatening strike which was nearly deflected to the bottom corner of the net before Pumas goalkeeper Dustyn Brim made a great save for his side.
At 10 minutes, ‘Caps midfielder Gagandeep Dosanjh received the first yellow card of the match, having already been cautioned for his battles within the early stages.
The home side continued with a firm grip of possession until it paid off in the 14th minute. Bryce Alderson's brilliant strike from the outside of his left boot deflected before hitting the far post, leading to a corner kick. Following the clearance of the set-piece, Carlos Marquez outmuscled for possession and his pass found Michael Boxall in the six-yard box for a simple tap-in, which gave the ‘Caps a 1-0 goal.
Immediately following the goal, Kitsap were given a great opportunity to draw level when Ben Truax’s work at the end line provided a decent pass for Eder Guzman, whose shot went high and wide in the 16th minute.
The 'Caps continued to dictate possession and create numerous chances courtesy of pinpoint passing from Alderson, Ben Fisk, and Essa. The second breakthrough came on 24 minutes after Essa was sent down the right wing before finding Marquez in front of goal, who coolly slotted home the second goal of the night.
Towards the end of the first half, Marquez continued to be a handful for the Pumas defence and won a free kick from a foul by Stephen Mohn. Alderson curled the dead ball beautifully over the wall, but was denied by the crossbar.
Kitsap soon were on the attack in the 39th minute when Truax surged up the right wing and made a pass for Matt Friesen only to see his shot fly over the crossbar.
It would be the U-23 Whitecaps who finished off the half in style, as Fisk sent a long ball to Essa on the right wing who then quickly crossed straight to the boot of Marquez for a one-time volleyed finish and the Richmond, BC, native's second goal of the match.
The second half saw more tenacity from Kitsap, who forced many balls back towards Callum Irving in the Whitecaps U-23 goal.
Etienne Barbara was subbed on at the half and was given a golden opportunity in the 66th minute for a fourth goal when Stephen Mohn failed to clear from the 18-yard box, but his shot went wide.
The defending PDL champions created multiple chances at the 74th minute mark, beginning with a blistering strike from Kyle Johnson that forced a great diving save from Irving. The young 'Caps 'keeper was again called to action after Daniel Fabian played a great ball for Truax inside the 18-yard box, but Irving was on hand to collect the ball.
In the end, it was Vancouver’s night, as the team secured a clean sheet for 90 minutes and achieved their first-ever win against the Pumas.
Following the match, Whitecaps FC U-23 head coach Craig Dalrymple expressed great satisfaction with the team's performance. "I really can’t ask for more, they executed our game plan," he told whitecapsfc.com. "We wanted to be tight defensively, stay compact, and concede very few shots. We wanted to break quickly and execute in the final third and I think we did that perfectly tonight, it was a good disciplined 90-minute performance. We want to play an exciting brand of football and building on tonight’s performance will be positive for our next match.”
Next up for Whitecaps FC U-23 is a clash with newly developed rivals Seattle Sounders FC U-23 at Swangard Stadium next Friday night at 7:30 p.m. PT. Kitsap, meanwhile, will meet Fraser Valley Mariners next Saturday.
15' – VAN – Michael Boxall (Carlos Marquez)
24' – VAN – Carlos Marquez (Yassin Essa)
42' – VAN – Carlos Marquez (Yassin Essa)
Shots: Vancouver 16 – Kitsap 9
Saves: Vancouver 3 – Kitsap 2
Fouls: Vancouver 6 – Kitsap 12
Offsides: Vancouver 10 – Kitsap 3
Corners: Vancouver 3 – Kitsap 3
9' - VAN – Gagandeep Dosanjh
28' - KIT – Chris Bettencourt
78' - KIT – Ben Truax
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
1.Callum Irving; 9.Adam Polakiewicz, 2.James Farenhorst, 25.Michael Boxall, 5.Bobby Jhutty; 7.Yassin Essa (3.Wesley Cain 63'), 8.Ben McKendry, 22.Bryce Alderson, 16.Gagandeep Dosanjh (11.Reynold Stewart 58'), 10.Ben Fisk (1.Spencer DeBoice 75'); 6.Carlos Marquez (24.Etienne Barbara 45')
Substitutes not used: 30.Sean Melvin, 17.Navid Mashinchi, 20.Tyrin Hutchings
00.Dustyn Brim; 2.Danny Medina, 7.Steve Mohn, 11.Kyle Johnson, 22.Jarrett Robbins (6.Justin Robbins 45'); 8.Matt Friesen (4.Sam Zipperstein '90+), 18.Daniel Fabian, 19.Eder Guzman (16.Greg Miley '68), 21.Justin Stoddard (24.Daniel MacLeod 52'); 9.Chris Bettencourt, 12.Ben Truax (13.Drew Jensen '79)
Substitutes not used: 1.Zac Lubin, 17.Zack Sampson