DALLAS, TX – Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency (3W-0L-0D) sealed a second straight trip to the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) Finals Week with a 3-1 win against PA Classics (1W-1L-1D) that put them clear at the top of Group 1 with three wins in as many matches.
Vancouver went behind early on but struck back immediately and, despite missing a penalty after halftime, went on to score two more in the second half to see off the challenge of PA Classics.
It was PA Classics who took the early lead on 22 minutes after Vancouver had cleared a set-piece but were beaten with a back post header when the ball was played back into the box.
Vancouver struck back almost immediately when, on 24 minutes, Titouan Chopin played the ball to Marco Bustos who struck a ferocious shot from 18 yards. The 'keeper managed to get a hand to it but was unable to keep the powerful strike out.
The teams went in at the break level on 1-1 but again it was Whitecaps FC who looked more threatening in the early exchanges of the second half.
The 'Caps won a penalty in the 55th minute, but Yassin Essa missed the spot kick.
The young striker wouldn’t be kept off the scoresheet for long, however, as a good interchange of passing in the 64th minute resulted in Chopin passing the ball to Essa who finished from 18 yards to put the Blue and White in the lead, 2-1.
Whitecaps FC kept pushing and got a deserved third goal to seal the win in the 78th minute. Jackson Farmer switched play out to Essa who in turn found Bustos in the box and the midfielder buried the chance for his fourth goal of the playoffs.
Coach Gordon Forrest was impressed with all aspects of the team’s performances against a PA Classics side that had not conceded a goal in the playoffs prior to this match.
“We went into the game looking to be positive and against very good, well-organized opposition, and we managed to break them down and the game opened up a little bit more,” Forrest said. “Our guys are very good going forward, but credit for how we set up and defended. These boys have got a belief about them; they’ve got a real good feeling as a group. They’ve got character and it’s great to have that as a player and great to have that as a team.”
As the winners of Group 1, Whitecaps FC have now qualified for USSDA Academy 2013 Finals Week, which takes place between July 14 to 20 in Houston, Texas.
Along with the winners of the other seven groups, Whitecaps FC will now be placed into one of two groups of four, with the winner of Group 1 facing the winner of Group 2 for the USSDA Championship.
Last season, the U-18 Residency squad made it to the final before suffering defeat at the hands of FC Dallas with a 3-2 loss. This year, they have another shot at glory after proving time and time again that they are one of the very best teams in their age bracket.
“It’s what the boys deserve,” commented Forrest. “Over the course of the season they’ve worked really hard and these players have stepped it up again, so great credit to them. It was difficult conditions, very tough opposition and they’ve stuck to their belief in the game plan and they came out on top in the three games.”
“They’ve enjoyed their performances here but it’ll be back to business when we get back. We’ll get stuck in to reviewing the playoffs and we’ll prepare the best we can to do our best in the final. We’ll give everything we can to reach the final and see what happens then.”
Whitecaps FC lineup:
Sean Melvin; Quinton Duncan, Jackson Farmer, Nicholas Prasad, Sam Adekugbe; Mitch Piraux, Kianz Froese (Jordan Haynes 65’), Marco Bustos; Titouan Chopin (Matthew van der Eyden 90’), Yassin Essa (Matthew Chow 84’), Brody Huitema