COQUITLAM, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams earned a pair of United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) victories against Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers on Saturday at Coquitlam's Percy Perry Stadium.
In front of a crowd of a couple hundred - including a group of energetic supporters - the U-18s overcame a slow start to upend their counterparts 3-2 to improve their record to 8W-2L-0D. The U-16s then made it two for two on the day with a 2-0 victory, bringing their record to 5W-2L-3D.
Highlights: Whitecaps FC Residency U-18 3-2 Portland Timbers
With five players having returned from the FIFA U-17 World Cup, and with defender Sam Adekugbe still fresh off of making his Major League Soccer (MLS) debut on October 27, the 'Caps were keen to add another tally to the win column.
Things did not start as the 'Caps had hoped, as on eight minutes a free kick from inside their own area was intercepted by a Portland striker and buried into the open net to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
After the nerves were settled, better attacking play ensued, and on 38 minutes their efforts paid off. Kianz Froese darted into the box and beat his defender - one of a number of occasions he displayed his attacking talent - causing the Timbers player to chop him down in the box. Adekugbe stepped up and buried the penalty kick to level the match at 1-1.
The second half saw a 'Caps side determined to score goals. Froese had three good strikes within the first 25 minutes of the second half, but two went just wide before the third was stopped by a strong save. In between, goalkeeper Nolan Wirth was called upon to make a massive stop on an open Timbers striker in the box.
The boys in white finally took the lead on 73 minutes as Marco Bustos - who also was dangerous throughout - received a pass from Adekugbe and hammered a one-timer past the goalkeeper to make it 2-1.
Just two minutes later they were at it again. Froese undressed a Timbers defender on the left flank and centred for Matthew Chow. The goalkeeper came up with a great save, but Haynes was there to bury the rebound and make it 3-2.
Portland pulled one back late to make it interesting, but Vancouver held on for victory over their Pacific Northwest foes.
After the match, head coach Gordon Forrest expressed his satisfaction with the way his team played.
"Overall, it was a very pleasing performance," said Forrest to whitecapsfc.com after the match. "There was some great attacking play and we scored some good goals. It's always great to beat another MLS academy, but it was especially encouraging to see the boys effort as we continue to build and improve."
Highlights: Whitecaps FC Residency U-16 2-0 Portland Timbers
Motivated by the occasion, the U-16s played a solid all-around match.
The 'Caps came out flying, with Aymar Sigue creating a couple early chances. First came a near miss from a tight angle on the right, followed by a centering pass that the big striker couldn't quite poke towards goal.
Sigue was back in the mix on nine minutes, rising up high to get his head on a cross, but the results bounced wide of net.
The pressure eventually led to a goal, as Dario Zanatta bagged one on 17 minutes. A free kick from David Norman was headed across goal by Jeevin Kang before Zanatta finished it off to make it 1-0.
Sigue and Zanatta continued to be a handful, as each had breakaway chances early in the second half, but the Timbers 'keeper did well to make a pair of stops.
Goalkeeper Aidan Aylward was called into action on 55 minutes, cleaning up a loose ball in the box to preserve the lead.
Finally, with only second remaining, Zanatta got on the end of a long ball forward from Eric de Graaf and struck a perfect shot into the bottom corner to cement a 2-0 victory.
"That's our last game before we go to Tampa, and it was a good performance," said Fagan to whitecapsfc.com. "They're quite direct, but I felt that we dealt with it well. We controlled the game and played the way that we want to."