HOUSTON, TX - With much at stake, Vancouver Whitecaps FC valiantly battled to a 0-0 draw against a highly motivated Albertson SC side in their final group match at the 2013 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) Finals on Thursday.
The result, however, was not enough to see the 'Caps top Group 1 and advance to a second straight USSDA championship final. A victory would have only made it all the more heartbreaking as New York Red Bulls Academy had already sealed Group 1's place in the final with a 4-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC Academy in the other match.
Vancouver will wrap-up their season on Saturday afternoon in the 5th/6th place match against St.Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri. Kickoff time will be confirmed on Friday.
Much like their previous match against New York, clear chances in the first half were at a premium for both sides. Albertson held an advantage in possession but the 'Caps did well to stymie their attack, which had scored seven goals in their first two Academy Finals matches. Vancouver had their moments as well but could not generate enough going forward to trouble their Eastern counterparts.
The 'Caps nearly had a chance just past 60 minutes into the match when a terrific long pass from the right found Yassin Essa at the top of the box, but the striker couldn't evade the Albertson defenders to get a shot off as the match remained scoreless.
Minutes later Sam Adekugbe made a terrific run down the left flank from his fullback spot but could not drive his shot on target as it sailed well high.
On 76 minutes Jordan Haynes, who had only just stepped on the field, stung a long shot towards goal, but straight at the 'keeper.
Though a place in the final was, unknowingly, out of reach for the 'Caps due to New York's dominance over Seattle in the other match, much was still on the line for Albertson as they needed a victory to stay ahead of New York and book a spot in Saturday's big game.
The young 'Caps indeed found out just how tough the competition was on the other side of the continent this year, as both Albertson SC and New York Red Bulls had lost only a single time in the Northeast Division this season, and Albertson's lone loss was in fact to the Red Bulls.
But Vancouver were not in Houston without good reason and played hard right until the final whistle, ensuring their penultimate opponents would remember just how strong of a squad they had this season.
Entering the final minute of the match, Marco Bustos had a great chance to find a winner when he cut past his defender and had a look on goal, but his left-footed strike was well saved by the 'keeper.
In the end, the final whistle blew to confirm a 0-0 draw and a match with St.Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri on Saturday to end a highly successful second season for the club in the USSDA.
Sean Melvin; Sam Adekugbe, Jackson Farmer, Nicholas Prasad, Quinton Duncan; Kianz Froese, Mitch Piraux (Jordan Haynes 75'), Marco Bustos; Yassin Essa, Spencer DeBoice, Brody Huitema
Subs: Nolan Wirth; Alex Comsia, Liam Elbourne, Titouan Chopin, Matthew Chow, Matthew Van Der Eyden,