Bedri Gashi Whitecaps FC reserves San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose Earthquakes

Whitecaps FC fall to San Jose Earthquakes in MLS Reserve League opener

Playing their first-ever match in the MLS Reserve League, Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves (0W-1L-0D) fell to a 2-1 defeat at San Jose Earthquakes reserves (1W-0L-0D) on Tuesday.

Swiss youngster Bedri Gashi gave the 'Caps second string an early lead with a fine strike at the Nutrilite Training Facility in San Jose, California. However, the Earthquakes turned this Reserve League West Division contest around with a second-half own-goal and a winning strike from Matt Luzunaris.

In what was an open first half, Whitecaps FC made a bright start by scoring the opening goal on eight minutes. Brazilian import Camilo intercepted an Earthquakes pass before finding strike partner Long Tan. The Chinese forward then picked out Gashi wide on the left-hand wide, where the youngster took a touch inside and unleashed an unstoppable 30-yard shot that came off the underside of San Jose's crossbar before hitting the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at halftime.

The visitors' advantage lasted only seven minutes into the second half, however, as the Earthquakes equalized in fortuitous circumstances. Anthony Ampaipitakwong's corner unluckily deflected off a 'Caps player and past former San Jose goalkeeper Joe Cannon for 1-1.

San Jose's winner came on 64 minutes after the home side claimed possession on the left-hand side, with Earthquakes striker Simon Dawkins playing a ball wide to Ellis McLoughlin. The midfielder made a run to the byline before sending over a cross that found an unmarked Luzunaris at the far post. His first-time finish flew past Cannon to make it 2-1.

Taking charge of the reserve side on Tuesday, Whitecaps FC assistant coach Denis Hamlett was pleased with what he saw from his team in the Bay Area. "It was a good game, as both teams came out and tried to play," Hamlett told "I thought we kept pretty good shape in the first half and created some pretty good chances. In the second half, San Jose stepped up their pressure, which made it hard for us to play out of the back. Their pressure created the corner that resulted in the equalizer, as well as their winning goal."

The former Chicago Fire head coach is pleased that the Blue and White have the chance to play their reserve players in meaningful competition. "Today's game was a good exercise for a lot of the guys, as many of them haven't played 90 minutes of soccer for some time," he said. "At some point, these players will be called upon for first-team action and we want to make sure they are ready for that. The MLS Reserve League will help us a lot this season."

Whitecaps FC reserves' next match in the MLS Reserve League will be on Sunday, April 17, when they host Chivas USA reserves at 11 a.m. PT.

Scoring Summary:
8' - VAN - Bedri Gashi (Long Tan, Camilo)
52' - SJ - own goal
64' - SJ - Matt Luzunaris (Ellis McLoughlin, Simon Dawkins)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 7 - San Jose 12
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 4 - San Jose 3
Saves: Vancouver 3 - San Jose 3
Fouls: Vancouver 9 - San Jose 13
Corners: Vancouver 1 - San Jose 9
Offsides: Vancouver 6 - San Jose 3

20' - SJ - Matt Luzunaris
50' - VAN - Jeb Brovsky
53' - SJ - Steven Beitashour

Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves
Joe Cannon; Wes Knight (Nizar Khalfan 55'), Kevin Harmse, Bilal Duckett, Blake Wagner (La’Vere Corbin-Ong 72'); Philippe Davies, Alexandre Morfaw, Jeb Brovsky, Bedri Gashi; Camilo (Doudou Toure 67'), Long Tan

San Jose Earthquakes reserves
Andrew Weber; Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara, Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow; Rafael Baca, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Brad Ring, Ellis McLoughlin; Matt Luzunaris, Simon Dawkins (James Callinan 75')