TACOMA, WA - Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (3W-3L-0D) were unable to salvage a point against Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC U-23 (2W-2L-1D) on the road Sunday, narrowly losing 1-0 in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action Sunday at Sunset Stadium.
The Blue and White were coming off a hard fought 5-3 victory over Victoria Highlanders FC on Friday night, but were unable to carry that momentum over to Sunday.
Despite the result, head coach Stuart Neely was pleased with the effort from his team.
“It was a good game today. We went toe-to-toe with a very physical team and played some good football,” said Neely. “What we need to continue to work on is our ability to play quicker against teams who take away space biy sitting back and defending to counter.”
The first chance of the afternoon came in the ninth minute when Sean Melvin denied Sounders’ midfielder Aodhan Quinn’s volley.
The ‘Caps had their first opportunity when Niall Cousens found space in the Sounders’ box before his shot earmarked for the far post was saved by the Sounders’ keeper.
Cousens has been a nightmare for opposing defenders early on in the PDL season with three goals in six matches.
After a cagey first 40 minutes, things opened up a bit; however, both teams were unable to capitalize from their respective corner kick chances in the final five minutes of the half.
The teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 0-0.
Neely replaced two of his three strikers at the half, sending on Yassin Essa and Spencer Deboice to replace Cam Hundal and Peter Bow.
In the 50th minute, Seattle’s Luis Esteves picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Deboice.
The Sounders took the lead in the 65th minute off of a powerful header from Esteves from a corner.
After the Sounders’ goal, the ‘Caps played much better and were able to generate many more scoring oppurtunities in the second half.
“We made some tactical changes, we pushed players up and we played three at the back in order to give us a better opportunity to get at them,” Neely reflected.
“We had several key moments in their box where we could’ve gotten shots off, but credit to the Sounders, they defended well and stuck to their gameplan.”
Essa came close to drawing level for the ‘Caps five minutes after Seattle had scored but couldn’t bury the pass from Harry Lakhan.
The ‘Caps poured on the pressure in the final 10 minutes.
On 79 minutes, the ‘Caps caught a break when Ian Lange’s shot trickled just wide of the Vancouver goal. It remained 1-0 for Seattle.
First, a threatening corner was collected by the Sounders’ keeper before anyone in blue was able to poke it home.
Later, Aminu Abdallah saw his long range effort miss the target by five feet.
Vancouver just couldn’t catch a break all afternoon long though and, on 88 minutes, Sasa Plavsic’s well-struck free kick beat the 'keeper but was kept out by the crossbar. That was Vancouver’s best and last chance.
Whitecaps FC U-23 remains winless against Sounders FC U-23 since Seattle joined the PDL last season. They are now 0W-2L-1D all-time versus their rivals.
The boys return to action next weekend, travelling to Washington for a pair of games against North Sound SeaWolves and Kitsap Pumas. First up is North Sound SeaWolves this Friday night, kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT at Edmonds Woodway High School.