BRADENTON, FL – A late equalizer by Mitch Piraux salvaged a 2-2 draw for Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency in an exciting clash with Houston Dynamo Academy Saturday morning at the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) Winter Showcase.
Homegrown defender Sam Adekugbe opened the scoring for the ‘Caps in the eighth minute but a pair of Dynamo goals just before and after halftime put the Central Conference, Frontier Division in control.
Fortunately for the Blue and White, four second-half substitutions gave the ‘Caps some life and Piraux leveled things up in the 85th minute to secure the draw.
With the result, the U-18s finish the 2013 USSDA Winter Showcase with a 1W-1L-1D record.
“It’s going to give us a lot of stuff to work on when we get back when we get to do the video work and that’s the value of coming to these things,” assistant coach Steve Meadley told whitecapsfc.com. “We get the good competition and it’s just an excellent learning opportunity when we get to play against other MLS clubs. We’re happy to be a part of this for sure. The boys want it … they want to learn. They come off the field and they want more. And that makes us happy for sure.”
The U-18s came out flying Saturday morning at the Premier Sports Complex in Bradenton, Florida. It was clear from the outset that the ‘Caps would not be kept off the scoresheet for long. They struck first in the eighth minute when Adekugbe finished off a second phase ball from in tight that was crossed into the box by Matthew Chow.
Energized by the early marker, Whitecaps FC had a number of chances to double their lead in the opening half hour, but the Dynamo keeper made a number of key saves to keep the match within reach.
As the half wore on, Houston began to come alive and were rewarded in the 43rd minute when midfielder Christian Lucatero finished from the top of the box to bring the game level.
Playing their third match in four days, it seemed the ‘Caps began to tire in the early stages of the second half and Houston took advantage. Just three minutes into the half, striker Elo Ozuma was played in alone before calmly beating ‘Caps keeper Nolan Wirth to give the Dynamo their first lead of the match.
“At that point, we decided freshen up the lineup a bit and we got some renewed energy in the side after making those subs,” Meadley said. “We were pushing and pushing for the goal and thankfully it came.”
It came in the 85th minute when Piraux cleaned up a loose ball inside the Dynamo box and blasted it home from three yards to salvage the 2-2 draw.
“It was a great opportunity to play against another MLS club, another great challenge for the boys,” Meadley said. “I think they were a bit disappointed with their performance but it was an excellent learning opportunity for them and they didn’t deserve to get beat, that’s for sure.”
8' – VAN – Adekugbe (Chow)
43' – HOU – Lucatero
48' – HOU – Ozumba
85' – VAN – Piraux
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Nolan Wirth; Mark Baldisimo, Nicholas Prasad, Jackson Farmer, Sam Adekugbe; Mitch Piraux, Jordan Haynes (Vaggeli Boucas 60’), Marco Bustos (Kyle Jones 66’); Titouan Chopin (Mason James 72’), Kianz Froese, Matthew Chow (Nike Azuma 55’)