Playing their second training match in as many days, Vancouver Whitecaps FC had to settle for a 2-2 draw with the United States U-18 national team in Avondale, Arizona, on Saturday.
Chinese striker Long Tan and Brazilian trialist Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo found the scoresheet for the Blue and White at the Westside Complex, which is based just west of Phoenix. Whitecaps FC were made to work hard for Saturday's result, as Mike Matkovich's USA U-18 squad gave the first year Major League Soccer club a real test with goals from Robert Kristo and Aaron Kovar.
"I thought the players' performances were okay today, though I wasn't happy with the way we played in the first half," head coach Teitur Thordarson told whitecapsfc.com. "I actually felt we did not adjust that well to the weather today and I mentioned that to my players at halftime. We got a reaction from them after the break and I felt we played a very good second half. It was also good to see the trialists come on in the second half and perform very well."
Playing in very windy and wet conditions, Thordarson started many of the younger players in his squad, with several of those players getting a run-out on Saturday after not appearing in Friday's defeat versus MLS Western Conference rivals Chivas USA. Thordarson admitted the conditions played a role in the way Saturday's match unfolded. "The wind and the rain definitely affected the quality of the game, there's no doubt about that," he said.
Whitecaps FC made a bright start to proceedings by taking the lead on 13 minutes. Canadian youth international Philippe Davies found Tan with a ball from the right flank. The former FC Tampa Bay striker neatly deflected a shot past USA U-18 goalkeeper Andrew Wolverton for a 1-0 Vancouver lead.
The 'Caps then applied more pressure on their young opponents, with Davies forcing Wolverton to tip the midfielder's free kick over his crossbar on 25 minutes.
Yet, just when another Whitecaps FC goal may have been on the cards, USA U-18's equalized on 31 minutes from a corner. Defender Alec Cochran headed down the set-piece to striker Kristo, whose shot got past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre to make it 1-1.
Vancouver tried to restore their advantage before the break, but midfielder Jeb Brovsky was off-target with a far-post header from a Blake Wagner corner on 44 minutes. It meant both sides went to halftime tied at 1-1.
The second half saw Whitecaps FC use their four substitutes, with Sanvezzo and Nizar Khalfan entering the match on the hour mark. Two minutes later, however, USA U-18's took the lead through midfielder Kovar. The Seattle Sounders FC Acedemy player neatly redirected striker Vince Cicciarelli's pass from the right past Sylvestre to make it 2-1 to the young Americans.
That second goal prompted Whitecaps FC into action, and they equalized on 72 minutes through Sanvezzo. A strong run down the right flank by the speedy Cornelius Stewart saw his shot cleared, but only to Khalfan. The Tanzanian international quickly squared the ball to Davies, whose shot deflected off a defender to the Brazilian. Sanvezzo took possession and created space for himself before firing a shot into bottom left-hand corner of the net for 2-2.
Vancouver then went searching for a match winner, but Wolverton was able to block Sanvezzo's shot after the South American attacker made a great run through the middle, while Stewart struck the rebound over the crossbar.
It proved to be the last opportunity of the match, as Whitecaps FC and USA U-18's had to settle for a stalemate in the end. Thordarson's side will now turn their attentions to Monday and the third training match of their current Arizona trip. Vancouver take on MLS Western Conference rivals Los Angeles Galaxy in a closed-door contest at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Kickoff is set for 9:30 a.m. PT.
13' - VAN - Long Tan (Philippe Davies)
31' - USA - Robert Kristo (Alec Cochran)
62' - USA - Aaron Kovar (Vince Cicciarelli)
72' - VAN - Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo (Philippe Davies, Nizar Khalfan)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
24.Brian Sylvestre; 19.Blake Wagner, 33.Michael Boxall (40.Ryan O'Leary 74'), 34.Bilal Duckett, 8.Wes Knight; 13.Bedri Gashi (16.Nizar Khalfan 60'), 15.Philippe Davies, 32.Jeb Brovsky, 39.Cornelius Stewart; 17.Omar Salgado (9.Atiba Harris 74'), 23.Long Tan (36.Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo 60')
Andrew Wolverton; Michael Ambrose, Alec Cochran, Timothy Parker, Boyd Okwuonu; Marcus Salandy-Defour, Eric Miller, Daniel Metzger, Christopher Somerville; Cooper Vandermaas-Peeler, Robert Kristo