Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (2W-1L-1D) got back to winning ways at Simon Fraser University with a convincing 4-0 defeat of Fraser Valley Mariners FC (0W-4L-1D) in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action on Wednesday night.
The match erupted into a flying start, with both teams sprinting for possession and keeping the majority of play tight within midfield. The tide soon began to turn in Whitecaps FC’s favour when Bryce Alderson found space at the top of the Mariners box for a low shot that swung wide in the second minute. The U-23 'Caps continued to threaten the Mariners goal when Ben Fisk unleashed some individual flair at the byline and cut into the box, but sent his shot high and wide.
Despite the early scares, Fraser Valley were quick to pressure the ‘Caps into a mistake. That chance arrived in the 27th minute, as Tyrin Hutchings’ pass was intercepted by Adrian Kekec, who looked to break away one-on-one against goalkeeper Callum Irving from half. Hutchings was up to the task, however, and quickly made amends with a slide tackle that cut out the opportunity.
Vancouver found their insurance at the stroke of 30 minutes, this time courtesy of a fine pass from Caleb Clarke, who turned playmaker for Fisk, putting away his first of the season. The ‘Caps continued their string of deadly passes until the 39th minute, when left fullback Adam Polakiewicz sent a “Rochat”-esque through ball for Clarke, who made a clinical finish with his right foot for the 2-0 lead.
Fraser Valley did not give up the fight, with a shot arriving in first-half stoppage time from Juan Pablo Mora Perea, who forced a first diving save from Irving.
Second-half action kicked off much like the first half, with a handful of stoppages arriving from fouls by both sides. The Mariners took a more direct approach in the opening 15 minutes with lots of high-flying shots from long range. Kekec took a more patient approach in the 62nd minute for the visitors and let loose a venomous strike through some legs in the box that nearly deflected in.
Substitute Reynold Stewart made a big impact in the 70th minute for the U-23 'Caps after being denied the third goal of the match by Fraser Valley goalkeeper Mark Village, who was quick to react from the midfielders shot inside the box. An ensuing corner kick in the 74th minute proved to be too much to handle for Village, as the veteran mishandled on his catch and Gagandeep Dosanjh found Long Tan in front of the open net for a 3-0 lead.
The Mariners continued to search for that elusive opening goal of the match, but were given glimmers of hope through Kekec in attack after he managed a shot on goal on 80 minutes that was caught by Irving. Vancouver answered another of the Mariners chances with another goal in the 84th minute. The home side showcased more great depth in playmaking when defender Bobby Jhutty surged down the right wing and made the low cross to Tan, who tapped in for his brace and sealed a comfortable victory for the Blue and White.
Following the match, Whitecaps FC U-23 head coach Craig Dalrymple was pleased his squad took their opportunities on the night and keen to improve for Saturday. “It was important to get that first goal and go into the second half deservedly in the lead, anything can happen the longer the game goes on," he told whitecapsfc.com. "There’s still some work to do. We’ve still got to be diligent with tracking runners and get more physical in our box. I think we’re a little too nice on set-pieces, but we kept the clean sheet and that’s important. We’re playing against a good squad on Saturday that’s older and more disciplined, so it’s good for the group to go in there with some more points under our belt."
Up next for Whitecaps FC U-23 is a match this Saturday afternoon against undefeated Portland Timbers U-23 at University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Stadium for a shot at solidifying first place in the Northwest Division of the PDL's Western Conference and claiming points towards the PDL version of Cascadia bragging rights. Kickoff on Saturday is at 2 p.m. PT. in the PDL
31' – VAN – Ben Fisk (Caleb Clarke)
39' – VAN – Caleb Clarke (Adam Polakiewicz)
74' – VAN – Long Tan (Gagandeep Dosanjh)
84' – VAN – Long Tan (Bobby Jhutty)
Shots: Vancouver 23 – Fraser Valley 10
Saves: Vancouver 4 – Fraser Valley 5
Fouls: Vancouver 7 – Fraser Valley 9
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – Fraser Valley 4
Corners: Vancouver 8 – Fraser Valley 5
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
1.Callum Irving; 9.Adam Polakiewicz, 2.James Farenhorst (4.Shawn Parkes 78'), 20.Tyrin Hutchings, 5.Bobby Jhutty; 16.Gagandeep Dosanjh, 21.Michael Marousek (11.Reynold Stewart 52'), 22.Bryce Alderson (15.Gagan Josan 69'); 10.Ben Fisk (19.Sang Hwang 73'), 23.Caleb Clarke (18.Cam Hundal 52'), 24.Long Tan
Substitutes not used: 30.Sean Melvin, 12.Declan Rodriguez
Fraser Valley Mariners FC
22.Mark Village; 3.Colton O'Neill, 5.Koby Byrne, 11.Jason Cordeiro, 12.Ethan Claiborne-Collins (7.Andy Phillips 73'); 2.Dustin Wallington, 6.Peter Bow (14.Matt Rosenlund 45'), 13.Juan Pablo Mora Perea (4.Spencer MacKinnon 45'), 16.Omar Adlani (15.Ashif Ismail 38'); 18.Daniel Molendijk, 23.Adrian Kekec
Substitutes not used: 1.Danny Smyth, 9.Jeff Kosub, 10.Davis Wallington