It was tough day out at the office for Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams in California on Sunday, with the U-18 and U-16 squads both falling to defeats against Strikers FC Academy in the second matches of their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) seasons.
Despite the defeats, both teams showed plenty of improvement in the second halves of their respective matches, pleasing head of high performance and interim U-18 head coach Stuart Neely, as well as U-16 head coach Craig Dalrymple.
It was the second game in as many days for the two teams under the scorching sun at Orange Coast College.
For the U-18 ‘Caps, the ball just wouldn’t go into the back of the net during their 3-0 loss to Strikers FC.
The Strikers hit the ground running and executed the counterattack to perfection in each of their goals. Whitecaps FC got off to a slow start and the match was barely seconds old when their opponents had a breakaway chance.
Neely’s team conceded the opening goal in the 31st minute when a through ball found its way past Vancouver’s defence to the Strikers’ frontman, who made no mistake with the finish.
The Irvine-based club then doubled its lead two minutes before the break, which came as a major blow to the Residency side.
“That was a bit of a downer,” Neely said, referring to the second goal. “If it was 1-0 at halftime we would’ve been able to regain ourselves and get right back into it, but at 2-0 it’s harder to do.
“So we had a little bit of a motivational interlude at halftime. The boys came out, and you’re either going to get a goal back and make it 2-1 or you’re going to go down 3-0 fighting and trying to play football and that’s exactly what we did.”
Neely took plenty of positives from a spirited second half performance, which yielded no less than nine chances in front of goal.
“We could still be playing right now and not have scored a goal,” Neely said.
In the end Whitecaps FC were met by a brick wall in net for Strikers FC, with their goalkeeper making four outstanding saves as his team was under siege.
“It just wasn’t our day,” Neely said. “But what I did like in the end was the players’ ability to hem a team in and play football in half a pitch for a good 35-40 minutes.”
Strikers FC made it 3-0 with approximately 25 minutes remaining after the ‘Caps lost possession in midfield, but Neely said the team still had the belief to fight back.
“But getting a goal just wasn’t going to happen,” he said.
Vancouver Whitecaps U-18 Residency:
Nolan Wirth (Marco Carducci 46’); Titouan Chopin, Quinton Duncan, Jackson Farmer, Sam Adekugbe; Mitch Piraux (Spencer Deboice 60’), Liam Elbourne (Kianz Froese 46’) Carlos Patino (Brody Huitema 46’); Yassin Essa, Carlos Marquez, Brody Huitema, Yassin Essa, Sebastian Cabrera (Matthew van der Eiden 60’)
Whitecaps FC found themselves in a hole early in the match when they conceded two goals in the first seven minutes.
Their opponents were very direct and aggressive in attack and consistently got in behind the ‘Caps’ defensive line.
However, the U-16s were able to make the necessary adjustments later in the half and performed strongly after the interval.
“We addressed things at halftime and refocused on our goals we had before the game,” Dalrymple said. “So we had a lot more tact and understanding of the defensive roles in the second half and we actually were the better team.”
Dalrymple said the objectives after the break were to win the remaining 45 minutes and to get in behind the Strikers’ backline at least a dozen times.
But trouble struck in the 55th minute when the opposition scored against the run of play.
“… but we just ran out of steam towards the end,” Dalrymple added.
“We clawed our way back into the game, we got it back to 3-1 and we missed a glorious chance to make it 3-2, then we conceded a late last minute goal and it ended up being 4-1, which was a bit flattering for the opponents.”
“The most pleasing thing for me was the lads showed character and they stuck to our game plan after we readjusted things and they showed some real growth in their mentality as the game wore on, so that for me is a positive to take out of it,” he said.
Vancouver Whitecaps U-16 Residency:
(Jasdeep Lally 60’); Jordan Haynes (A.J. Lopez 50’), Alexander Comsia, Evan Libke (Matthew Baldisimo 62’), Joshua Cuthbert; Francesco Saporito (Jeevin Kang 50’), Matteo Bordignon (Marcello Polisi 65’), Marco Bustos; Matthew Chow (Dario Zanatta 68’), Olamide Ajibike, Evan Gray (Brian Im 50’)