As Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 (0W-1L-0D) learned Monday on the opening night of the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs, no lead is safe in the Round of 32.
Playing in their first of three matches this week, the U-18 'Caps suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat to Pateadores (1W-0L-0D) on a scorching hot evening in Frisco, Texas.
After Whitecaps FC took a 2-1 lead just before the break, their West Conference rivals from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, battled back and secured the victory with a dramatic winner in time added on at the end of the game.
“It was very, very disappointing,” said Whitecaps FC assistant coach Paul Ritchie. “We were in control of the game until the last minutes and then it all went against us.”
As the top seed in Group 2, the U-18 Residency squad came into the match as the favoured side, but not by a wide margin.
Pateadores claimed the USSDA title last season and had not lost a match since March 31, when they fell 1-0 to the ‘Caps in Surrey, BC. But a repeat was not in the cards on Monday, as Pateadores drew first blood off a corner just four minutes into the match.
Midfielder Ben McKendry responded for the ‘Caps in the 12th minute with a long-range strike from the edge of the box, as the Blue and White started to settle in and control possession. And their efforts paid off in the 41st minute.
After striker Carlos Marquez’s close-range attempt rung off the post, midfielder Ben Fisk beat his marker to the rebound, took a touch and slid the ball into the back of the net to give the 'Caps their first lead of the match.
The pace slowed down a bit after the break, but Vancouver remained in control. It wouldn’t last for long, though, as Pateadores managed to equalize in the 75th minute.
With the game still in the balance, Pateadores came on strong in the dying stages of the match, and they were rewarded in the 94th minute. After a turnover in midfield, striker TJ Casner was the recipient of a diagonal ball over the top, which he controlled at the back post and smashed home just before the final whistle sounded.
“It was a difficult goal to lose on,” Ritchie said. “Obviously, it was a great time for them to score a goal, and a horrendous time for us. But that’s football.”
Although it was a 6 p.m. local time kickoff, temperatures still reached upwards of 38 degrees Celsius, forcing the referee to call a mandatory “water break” in the second half.
“It was very, very hot,” Ritchie said. “But it’s the same for both teams.”
The U-18 ‘Caps now enter the realm of the unknown, as they conclude group play against two sides they have never met before: Weston FC (1W-0L-0D) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT and Texans SC Houston (0W-1L-0D) on Thursday at 7 a.m. PT.
The winner of the group will advance to the 2011-12 USSDA Development Academy Finals Week in Houston, Texas, from July 16 to 23, where the league’s champion will be crowned.
2’ - PAT - Casey Macias
6’ - VAN - Ben McKendry
39’ - VAN - Ben Fisk
81’ - PAT - TJ Casner
90+’ - PAT - TJ Casner
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency
Callum Irving; Declan Rodriguez, Jason van Blerk, Daniel Stanese, Adam Polakiewicz; Ben McKendry, Alex Rowley, Bryce Alderson (Carlos Patino 88'); Ben Fisk (Spencer De Boice 73'), Carlos Marquez, Yassin Essa (Wesley Cain 60')