On a sunny Friday night at Swangard Stadium, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (1W-1L-0D) began a "junior" edition of the Cascadia Cup with their first-ever match against Seattle Sounders FC U-23 (1W-0L-0D) in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL). Despite attacking for much of the match, the 'Caps ultimately fell 2-1 to their new-found Pacific Northwest rivals.
The ‘Caps came into this match a week after a decisive 3-0 home victory over defending PDL champions Kitsap Pumas at Swangard. Vancouver fielded a similar squad to its prior match, with MLS roster players Caleb Clarke, Russell Teibert, and returning captain Michael Boxall all offering their services. Head coach Craig Dalrymple opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Fisk, Clarke, and Teibert bringing the firepower up front, compared to last week's 4-4-1-1 line-up.
Things got to a flying start with drumming and chanting Southsiders competing with a handful of Sounders FC supporters, chanting back and forth.
Vancouver had the first clear chance of the match when Teibert was given too much space up the middle before his strike was deflected barely wide of the net in the eighth minute. Teibert again was menacing on 12 minutes when he was left free in the 18-yard box for a solid strike that Sounders FC goalkeeper Doug Herrick parried from danger.
In the 23rd minute, Sounders FC's Deandre Yedlin made a scintillating run up the right wing from his defence position and sent Jones through, forcing a challenge and a save from Callum Irving before Boxall cleared the danger. One minute later, the breakthrough came from the visitors when Troy Peterson’s chip over the 'Caps defence found Jones on the break. He calmly sidestepped a onrushing Irving and slotted home for the 1-0 Sounders FC lead on 24 minutes.
Clarke then combined give-and-go passes at the top with Gagandeep Dosanjh at the 35th-minute mark and released a shot through the middle only to see it fly wide of the mark. The 'Caps were given one last first-half chance in the 41st minute courtesy of confident ball control from Clarke in the opposing third. However, Herrick comfortably saved his low shot to the corner.
Whitecaps FC U-23 looked to ignite their comeback at the opening of the second half when Teibert was again given space to run at goal and strike a shot over the Seattle crossbar. However, it was the visitors who bounced back right away on 51 minutes with a deflected goal from Fernando Monge inside the Vancouver box after Luis Esteves provided a dangerous ball into the box from the left wing.
Just when the ‘Caps looked to be on their heels, Clarke was able to bring the game back within one goal, as his strong stature over the ball gave him enough space for a beautifully curled left-footed shot off the far post and into the far left of the goal in the 53rd minute. With the momentum in their favour, the Blue and White created another great opportunity when Dosanjh deflected Fisk’s shot at goal, but Herrick was quick to react and saved the possible equalizer.
Vancouver was able to keep a firm grip on possession in the latter stages of the second half and open up the Sounders FC defence with multiple passes coming from the back that led to an eventual low driven strike by Teibert that was straight to the hands of Herrick.
The 'Caps luck seemed to run dry in the end, as Boxall’s 89th-minute chance from a cross into the box was lightly shot through a crowd of legs and out of play.
Despite the setback, Dalrymple was left satisfied with the performance of his side, but disappointed that it was without reward. “We were great with possession tonight. I feel that both our conceded goals were avoidable, we had maybe 60 to 70 per cent possession, but Seattle defended well - to their credit. Kitsap wanted to come out and press us higher, but Seattle did well with their plan to sit in, block it up, and counter, so we’ll have to work on those counter-attacks for next game."
Next up for Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 is a Mother’s Day clash at 5 p.m. PT with “Juan De Fuca Plate” bragging rights at stake, as they travel to Vancouver Island to take on British Columbia rivals Victoria Highlanders FC, who will be opening their PDL campaign on Sunday.
25' - SFC - Darwin Jones (Troy Peterson)
51' - SFC - Fernando Monge (Luis Esteves)
53' - VAN - Caleb Clarke
Shots: Vancouver 19 – Sounders FC 6
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Sounders FC 3
Fouls: Vancouver 8 – Sounders FC 12
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – Sounders FC 0
Corners: Vancouver 6 – Sounders FC 1
45' - SFC - Darwin Jones
84' - VAN - Russell Teibert
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
1.Callum Irving; 12.Declan Rodriguez (11.Reynold Stewart 54'), 25.Michael Boxall, 2.James Farenhorst, 9.Adam Polakiewicz; 8.Ben McKendry (21.Michael Marousek 75'), 5.Bobby Jhutty, 16.Gagandeep Dosanjh; 10.Ben Fisk, 23.Caleb Clarke (9.Carlos Marquez 84'), 22.Russell Teibert
Substitutes not used: 30.Sean Melvin, 3.Wesley Cain, 19. Sang Hwang, 20.Tyrin Hutchings,
Seattle Sounders FC U-23
1.Doug Herrick; 20.DeAndre Yedlin, 6.Chris Brundage, 4.Mark Lee, 2.Michael Uyehara; 17.Sean Morris (26.Daniel Gray 88'), 10.Fernando Monge (8.Aodhan Quinn 58'), 14.Luis Esteves (7.Jamael Cox 69'), 13.Nick McCluskey; 11.Darwin Jones (9.Facundo Dispasquale 72')
Substitutes not used: 00.Ryan Herman, 12.Bradley McIntosh, 27.Balin Larson