VANCOUVER, BC – A second straight 90th-minute winner by Andre Lewis gave Team Blue a 2-1 win in Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Blue and White intrasquad match Wednesday afternoon at UBC Thunderbird Stadium.
After having a goal called back for offside just moments earlier, Lewis buried the last kick of the match from in tight to break the deadlock and secure the victory for Team Blue. Following the goal, the crowd chanted “flip” in reference to his failed back flip attempt Sunday in Victoria and Lewis obliged – this time successfully.
“I just did it to show everyone that I can,” Lewis told reporters after the match. “The other day my mom was like, ‘Please don’t do it again.’ I like to excite the fans whenever I score. I just like to enjoy scoring.”
There was a heavy youth presence on both teams on Wednesday, as most of the players who appeared in Sunday’s friendly in Victoria trained in the morning and were given the afternoon off.
One player who stood out in the early stages was second-year striker Kekuta Manneh, who returned to full training last week. The 19-year-old occupied the right wing for Team Blue and created several chances with his pace and movement.
Manneh’s best chance came in the 17th minute when he broke in all alone after intercepting a pass only to poke the ball just over the goal. A few minutes later, Manneh saw his afternoon end earlier than expected after getting sent off for a hard sliding tackle deep in his own end.
In addition to Manneh, Team Blue midfielder Bryce Alderson also looked lively in a holding role in the first half. The 20-year-old Canadian was a major part of the Team Blue attack that controlled most of the possession throughout the match.
“He’s refreshed, he’s hungry, and he’s fit,” said Robinson. “I think you saw today for the first hour that he was probably the best player on the park. Something has worked in the offseason. We’ll continue to push Bryce because he has chances moving forward with this team.”
Watson opened the scoring for Team Blue in the 41st minute, after intercepting an errant pass and poking it into the back of the net from about 10 yards. Diouf responded for Team White moments before the halftime whistle.
After Residency midfielder Marco Bustos played in Aminu Abdallah down the left flank, Abdallah found Diouf at the top of the box with a low cross and the Senegalese striker hit it first time into the bottom left corner of the goal.
After a slow start to the second half, the action picked up late as both teams pushed for the go-ahead marker. Kianz Froese and Omar Salgado were both heavily involved for Team Blue, but some steady defending from Team White skipper Christian Dean and timely saves from Residency goalkeeper Nolan Wirth kept them at bay.
At the other end of the pitch, Residency goalkeeper Marco Carducci was called upon to make several game-saving stops – including sprawling saves on a Diouf header in the 80th minute and a Ben Fisk penalty in the 88th.
“He was great,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “Obviously, he made a few fantastic saves. He made a wrong decision to come out for the penalty but he made up for it with a fantastic save. I have no doubt that Marco is going to be a top keeper and part of his development is training with the first team.”
Ultimately, Lewis would cap off the match with a cool left-footed finish after a nice feed from Froese to give Team Blue the 2-1 victory.
“The mentality was good, because it’s never easy playing in a practice match,” said Robinson. “But they got out of it what I wanted them to get out of it. Obviously, there was a little bit too much energy at times, but I’d never take that away from them.”
41’ – BLUE – Matt Watson
45’ – WHITE – Mamadou Diouf (Aminu Abdallah, Marco Bustos)
90’ – BLUE – Andre Lewis (Kianz Froese, Aminu Abdallah)
18.Nolan Wirth+; 42.Mark Baldisimo+ (41.Jackson Farmer+ ’45), 41.Jackson Farmer+ (50.Nicholas Prasad+ 45’), 22.Christian Dean, 26.Aminu Abdallah (12.Jordan Haynes+ 45’); 45.Adam Mena#, 51.Michael Kafari#, 32.Marco Bustos+ (52.Caniggia Elva* 45’), 30.Ben Fisk^; 35.Marlon Ramirez^, 45.Mamadou Diouf
44.Marco Carducci+; 13.Solomon Kwambe*, 24.Carlyle Mitchell, 16.Johnny Leveron, 2.Jordan Harvey; 23.Kekuta Manneh (38.Kianz Froese+ 20’), 37.Mitch Piraux+ (26.Aminu Abdallah 65’), 25.Andre Lewis, 36.Bryce Alderson (42.Mark Baldisimo+ 74’), 8.Matt Watson; 17.Omar Salgado
*Training camp invite
+Whitecaps FC Residency
^Whitecaps FC U-23
#Whitecaps FC MLS draftee
Whitecaps FC begin their 2014 MLS season on March 8 versus New York Red Bulls at BC Place. Season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.