VANCOUVER, BC – On a rainy Father’s Day, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 overcame the conditions (3W-3L-3D) to a earn a decisive 3-0 victory over Puget Sound Gunners FC (1W-4L-2D) at Percy Perry Stadium. The result extended the ‘Caps’ win streak to three, following wins over Portland Timbers U-23 (4-1) and Washington Crossfire (2-1) in their two previous outings.
Three first half goals shared amongst Cody Cook (2) and Niall Cousens (1) propelled the ‘Caps to a well-deserved victory. Midfielder Brett Levis was another key man on the afternoon, recording six shots, as well as playing an integral role in Cook’s second goal.
On 10 minutes, Whitecaps FC had the first chance of the game. Cousens used his strength to hold the ball up at the top of the 18 before laying it off to Marlon Ramirez. The Honduran attacker then cut back and fired a shot that was handled by Puget Sound’s Keegan Rogers.
From there, the Blue and White took a stranglehold of the game. The pendulum swung as Cook tapped in a cross from Cousens to make it 1-0 for the home side in the 11th minute. The goal was created by an alert Cousens, who intercepted a nonchalant back pass from the Gunners.
In the 27th minute, Niall Thompson’s side found their second goal, as the creator of the first, Cousens, was rewarded by being set-up nicely for the second. The Vancouver-born striker banged home a pin-point cross from Colton O’Niell.
On 33 minutes, the home side nearly found another goal through a Puget Sound error, as Brett Levis won possession back for the ‘Caps deep inside Puget Sound territory. The University of Saskatchewan star carried the ball to the edge of the box and curled an effort wide-left of the goal.
Five minutes later, Whitecaps FC had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee. Cook found himself with the ball at his feet following a mesmerising string of short ground passes, as the goalscorer flicked the ball over the last defender, he appeared to be clipped, however, the referee did not give the decision.
Regardless, Cook found his way onto the scoresheet, once more. With four minutes to go until halftime, Levis had another one of his shots parried by Rogers with the rebound, but fortunately, the Cranbook, BC native was first to the rebound, and scored his second of the afternoon, putting Whitecaps FC up 3-0.
The ‘Caps came out positively to begin the second half, looking to add to their lead. However, three big saves within the first eight minutes from Rogers kept the Blue and White at bay, and the lead at 3-0.
The Gunners of Puget Sound were reduced to 10 men on 61 minutes. Fausto Ordenana of the visitors was sent off for his second yellow card after an overaggressive challenge on Mark Baldisimo over a 50/50 aerial ball.
With the score advantage and the man advantage, the home side cruised the rest of the way, controlling possession and pinning Puget Sound inside their own half for the majority of the last half hour.
Assistant Coach Steve Meadley was content with the way the team performed.
“We’re happy with the performance, we’re showing a lot of good signs of coming together as a squad, and we’re playing our way," Meadley told whitecapsfc.com after the match. “We’re never comfortable in a game [though], we’re constantly demanding high standards of the boys and we expect them to play the same way whether we’re playing against 10 or 11 men.”
Next up for the in-form ‘Caps is the return leg of the home-and-home series with Puget Sound, as Thompson’s side travels down to Washington in search for another positive result versus the Gunners. That match will take place on Friday, June 20, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. PT at Issaquah High School.