VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC took to the training pitch at UBC’s Dhillon Field on Wednesday morning for a Blue and White intrasquad match as they prepare to face Montreal Impact next week at BC Place.
A group of season ticket holders, who got to meet the players through the Loyalty Rewards Program, saw Team Blue cruise to a 4-1 win with goals from Brazilian trialist Guilherme Morano (2), Omar Salgado, and Sebastian Fernandez, who also added an assist.
Midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy, who recently returned to game action with Whitecaps FC U-23 after suffering a torn left ACL, provided the scoring for Team White.
The 70-minute 11 vs. 11 scrimmage was not only a great way to re-acclimatize to game speed after a one-week World Cup break, it also forced guys to try new things, said in-form striker Erik Hurtado.
“We play against each other every day, so we know each other’s tendencies,” he said. “We know what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are, so it just challenges us to do something different.”
However, it wasn’t just familiar faces in action on Wednesday. There were also some trialists, including former Swansea City left back/winger Jernade Meade, who had the first chance of the game for Team Blue. In the third minute, the 21-year-old rushed down the left flank and attempted a shot on goal but missed above the crossbar.
The two sides traded chances in the following minutes, and Hurtado nearly opened the scoring for Team White in the 15th minute but his strike from the left flank rang off the post.
It was a fairly even first half, but Team White started to take over in the late stages. And they were rewarded for their efforts in the 32nd minute, when Ballouchy finished off a Nicolas Mezquida cross to give Team White a 1-0 lead at the break.
Down 1-0, Team Blue came out of the interval looking like a determined side. Salgado started things off with a great shot from right side at 39 minutes, but he was denied by goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
The floodgates eventually opened in the 40th minute when Morano, who replaced Pedro Morales at halftime, found the back of the net from distance to tie the score at one 1-1.
Team Blue then broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute, when Fernandez lofted a gorgeous cross from the left flank to Salgado, who tapped it in at the far post.
Morano, one of three trialists who joined the ‘Caps this week, dialed up another strike from distance in the 57th minute to put Team Blue up 3-1. And they weren’t done there, as Fernandez added a late insurance marker to secure a 4-1 win for Team Blue.
“We’ve been off for two weeks, and we’ll be playing Montreal in seven days, so I wanted them to get used to playing 11-on-11,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “When you’re in a little area and playing five-on-five, some players excel more than others. When you open it up into a bigger area, it brings the lungs back, it brings the competitiveness to another level, and it’s important we do that before a big game.”
32’ – White – Mehdi Ballouchy (Nicolas Mezquida)
40’ – Blue – Guilherme Morano
52’ – Blue – Omar Salgado (Sebastian Fernandez)
57’ – Blue – Guilherme Morano
61’ – Blue – Sebastian Fernandez
David Ousted; Nigel Reo-Coker, Carlyle Mitchell, Christian Dean, Jernade Meade; Gershon Koffie, Matías Laba, Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales (Guilherme Morano 35’); Omar Salgado, Sebastian Fernandez
Substitutes not used
Paolo Tornaghi; Marlon Ramirez, Adam Straith, Johnny Leverón, Jordan Harvey; Mehdi Ballouchy, Bryce Alderson; Kekuta Manneh, Nicolas Mezquida, Darren Mattocks; Erik Hurtado (Dylan Stansfield 47’)
Substitutes not used
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.