CAMAS, WA – Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 suffered heartbreak in Camas, Washington Tuesday evening as their United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) playoff run came to an end after losing 5-4 in penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw with Portland Timbers U-23.
'Caps captain Bobby Jhutty scored the lone goal for Vancouver during regular time in what was their first USL PDL playoff contest since 2008.
"They really took Portland tonight to the extreme and it was just an unfortunate result," head coach Stuart Neely told whitecapsfc.com. "To lose in penalties is probably one of the most heartbreaking losses one can come across.”
This Northwest Division playoff clash saw a lack of action in the opening 45 minutes. Jitters may have played a factor as conservative play was the key to preventing an early goal and going down early in this do-or-die knockout match.
Despite some sustained pressure from the home team, the strong backline of the Blue and White held off the Timbers’ offence and prevented a first half goal. Both teams looked to capitalize early in the second half to gain momentum and carry the play for the remainder of the fixture.
On 53 minutes, the ‘Caps got their first real chance of the match as Yassin Essa fired a shot from 20 yards out, but Timbers goalkeeper David Meves was there to make the stop.
Just seven minutes later, the Blue and White offence nearly struck again. This time Niall Cousens got in all alone but Meves was up to the task again, making a spectacular save to prevent the away side from taking the lead.
In the 68th minute, some defensive miscommunication led to a cross from the right side of the field being headed in by Timbers striker Clark Phillips, giving the home side the 1-0 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining in the match.
After making a few offensive substitutions, with Sasa Plavsic and Spencer DeBoice coming on for Kevin Cobby and Essa, the ‘Caps came surging back.
The Blue and White got on the scoreboard on 83 minutes, as Jhutty fired a shot from 20 yards out that sailed past Meves and into the back of the net to equalize late in the match.
It was a much-needed goal by the captain and at the end of 90 minutes, the match was tied at 1-1. Neither side could finish in extra time and the rivals’ playoff battle was decided in penalty kicks. Both teams converted their first four shots before Vancouver's Sam Adekugbe saw his attempt sail just over the crossbar. Meves, the Timbers' netminder, scored the game-winning-goal for Portland as Whitecaps FC U-23 suffered heartbreak with a 5-4 loss in penalties.
Despite the tough result, Neely was extremely proud of his team’s effort this season.
“I can’t say enough about this group of boys and what they’ve accomplished,” he said. “They’re just a solid, solid group and made a solid effort. With the amount of changes that happened over the course of the season, they’ve really stepped up to be accounted for."
68' – Clark Phillips (Anthony Hobbs)
83' – Bobby Jhutty (Cam Hundal)
Round 1: VAN – Bobby Jhutty (Goal); POR – Zach Barnes (Goal)
Round 2: VAN – Sasa Plavisc (Goal); POR – Reed McKenna (Goal)
Round 3: VAN – Marco Visintin (Goal); POR – Eric Miller (Goal)
Round 4: VAN – Niall Cousens (Goal); POR – Jose Ribas (Goal)
Round 5: VAN – Sam Adekugbe (Miss); POR – David Meves (Goal)
Shots: Portland 19 - Vancouver 10
Saves: Portland 2 - Vancouver 6
Fouls: Portland 18 - Vancouver 17
Offsides: Portland 4 - Vancouver 5
Corners: Portland 9 - Vancouver 2
44' – POR – Zach Barnes
62' – VAN – Sam Adekugbe
79' – VAN – Sasa Plavsic
79' – VAN – Harry Kakhan
110' – POR – J.J. Greer
117' – VAN – Niall Cousens
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
1.Simon Thomas; 2.Colton O’Neill, 16.Michael Winter, 26.Kevin Cobby (12.Sasa Plavsic 72’), 25.Sam Adekugbe; 21.Marco Vistinin, 7.Harry Lakhan, 11.Yassin Essa (14.Spencer DeBoice 77’), 10.Bobby Jhutty, 23.Cam Hundal; 17.Niall Cousens
Substitutes not used:
22.Marco Carducci; 24.Peter Bow
Portland Timbers U-23
1.David Meves; 16 Anthony Hobbs, 6.J.J. Greer, 17.Bryan Gallego (24.Alex Walters 71'), 4.Evyn Hewett; 21.Zach Barnes, 8.Jose Ribas, 13.Eric Miller; 25.Clark Phillips (24.Jaime Velasco 73') (28.Anthony Machionne 88'), 10.Reinaldo Brenes (14.John McFarlin 49'), 7.Reed McKenna
Substitutes not used:
00.Paul Blanchette; 18.Jesse Garcia-Aguilar; 20.Foster Langsdorf