Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 and U-16 Residency teams began their United States Soccer Development Academy seasons in promising fashion on Saturday, despite the sweltering Californian sun beating down on them.
Head of high performance and interim U-18 head coach Stuart Neely was thrilled with his team’s 3-1 triumph over Pateadores U-17/18, while Craig Dalrymple’s U-16 squad were able to create several chances in their scoreless draw with their own Pateadores counterparts.
Both Residency squads will be in action again Sunday at Orange Coast College against Strikers FC. Kickoff is 10 a.m. PT for the U-18s and 12:30 p.m. PT for the U-16 outfit.
It was a perfect start to the season for the U-18 ‘Caps on Saturday.
Whitecaps FC opened their account at the 30-minute mark after a beautiful passage of play.
The ball was won in midfield by newcomer Kianz Froese, along with fellow central midfielder Mitch Piraux. Essa then collected the ball down the flank and used the overlapping Matthew van der Eyden, who swung in a stunning cross that was headed home by Huitema.
Essa continued to be a thorn in Pateadores’ side and doubled the ‘Caps lead two minutes from the interval when his free kick from a wide position took a deflection off a defender from the home team and bounced into the net.
The searing Californian sun and the international-sized pitch started to take their toll on Neely’s troops as Pateadores pulled a goal back in the 75th minute from a corner kick.
But Whitecaps FC pushed on and sealed the three points when Froese embarked on a blitzing run down the wing before cutting it back for Deboice, who slammed the ball home nine minutes from time.
Neely was pleased with the team’s opening game of the season but stressed the need for improvement in some areas.
“The three biggest challenges today were the environment (heat and international-sized pitch), our decision making, and our attacking shape to eliminate their counter-attacks,” he told whitecapsfc.com.
“We left ourselves short at times and caused our own problems but we stuck to our beliefs and added some strategies today that worked well for us.”
Neely also felt his team could have sealed the result much sooner than they did.
“We dominated in spells but failed to put the match away,” he said. “Some of our tactics needed an adjustment at 2-1, which we did, and that gave us more scoring opportunities and better defensive shape, along with fresh legs.”
Vancouver Whitecaps U-18 Residency:
Nolan Wirth; Matthew van der Eyden (Titouan Chopin 30’), Quinton Duncan, Jackson Farmer, Sam Adekugbe; Kian Froese, Mitch Piraux (Sebastian Cabrera 63’), Carlos Marquez (Liam Elborne 75’); Spencer Deboice, Brody Huitema, Yassin Essa (Carlos Patino 63’)
The U-16 Residency team had their chances to grab the three points against Pateadores, with a couple of long range strikes from Marco Bustos well-saved by the goalkeeper, but in the end settled for a single point in a 0-0 draw.
Olamide Ajibike entered the field early in the second half and sent in several telling crosses, but his teammates were unable to get on the end of them.
Dalrymple was content with the 0-0 draw and said his players met their objectives for their opening match of the season.
“(One aim) was to deny them time and space in our half and stay really compact, and be stubborn defensively, which obviously we achieved,” Dalrymple told whitecapsfc.com.
“And the second one was to initiate our attacks from our defensive third. I thought there was some real positive success on both those goals going into the game so I was pretty happy in that respect.
“There’s more work to be done. It’s a good start at this point for the lads and they should build on the result.
“But as I’ve said before, it’s more about how they perform rather than the result and I think we got both today so that was important.”
Vancouver Whitecaps U-16 Residency:
Mark Carducci; Joshua Cuthbert (A.J. Lopez 70’), Alexander Comsia, Evan Libke, Jordan Haynes; Jeevin Kang, Matteo Bordignon (Francesco Saporito 50’), Marco Bustos (Matthew Baldisimo 60’); Matthew Chow (Thomas Gardiner 60’), Brian Im (Olamide Ajibike 50’), Evan Gray (Dario Zanatta 65’)