Vancouver Whitecaps FC women raised their record to a perfect 2W-0L-0D Sunday afternoon in Coquitlam, BC, winning their United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League home opener 1-0 over arch-rivals Seattle Sounders women, in front of 1,555 enthusiastic fans at a sold-out Percy Perry Stadium. Striker Sydney Leroux scored on her homecoming late in the first half to give Whitecaps FC the victory.
'Caps head coach Hubert Busby Jr. made two changes from the squad that defeated Victoria Highlanders FC 2-0 in the season opener last Sunday. United States U-23 international midfielder Amber Brooks made her debut, prompting captain Kelsey Hood to shift to central defence. Up front, the crowd gave a big cheer to welcome back Vancouver-born US international striker Sydney Leroux, who last played for Whitecaps FC as a 15-year-old in 2005.
Whitecaps FC had the better of the play for most of the first half, out-shooting the visitors nine to three. Leroux came close just past the half-hour mark, as she stole the ball from a Seattle defender at the edge of the box, but her shot was well saved by Sounders goalkeeper Elizabeth Ruiz.
Seattle's best chance of the first half came from an in-swinging corner on the right by veteran Justi Baumgardt on 35 minutes, that had to be cleared off the goal line by Whitecaps FC midfielder Ranee Premji.
Whitecaps FC netted the game's only goal in first-half time added on, as Tiffany Weimer sent Carrie Patterson breaking into the box on the right, and she centered it for Leroux to first-time from five yards. It was Leroux's first-ever goal for the club.
Seattle had their chances in the second half, but could not beat goalkeeper Kristen Funk, who recorded her second straight shutout. On 50 minutes she turned back a good shot from Kara Kuttler inside the box, then nine minutes later, watched as new Seattle signing Lindsay Elston thudded a 20-yard effort off the crossbar.
The home side came close on 64 minutes, as substitute Tina Romagnuolo fed a bouncing ball ahead to Leroux who chipped the onrushing keeper, but sent it just wide.
On 77 minutes, Whitecaps FC were reduced to ten players, as Brooks was shown a straight red card by match referee Sasa Jecanski for foul language. Vancouver's defence held firm though, as Whitecaps FC picked up a big three points against their Pacific Northwest rivals in the W-League Western Conference, extending their regular season undefeated streak to 12 games over two seasons. Meanwhile, it was the first time since 2009 that Seattle has lost on the road.
Busby praised his defence after the match. "That's two wins and keeping a clean sheet, which I think is very important," he tols whitecapsfc.com. "You always give yourself an opportunity when you're not leaking goals, and they were very solid at the back again today."
Making her debut as a defender was captain Hood, who believes the team can only get better as the new arrivals start to gel. "I think we're going to get there; we keep having people come in, and we're trying to feel each other out. It's going to come."
The goalscoring hero Leroux, meanwhile, was delighted to be playing in front of the enthusiastic home crowd. "Canada and Vancouver will always be my home, so it was awesome to come back and it was an awesome crowd, and a really great atmosphere."
Much of the credit for the successful home opener goes to Coquitlam Metro-Ford Soccer Club, who hosted the match.
The next chance for Whitecaps FC fans to see their team is Friday, May 27, at home to Colorado Rush in a 7:00 p.m. PT kickoff at Chilliwack's Exhibition Stadium. The match is part of the Whitecaps Women's Soccer Series - presented by Kia - in partnership with the Girls Metro Soccer League, and is being hosted by Chilliwack FC. Tickets for all home games are available online for just $12 at www.whitecapsfc.com/wtickets.
45'+ - VAN - Sydney Leroux (Carrie Patterson)
Shots: Vancouver 14 - Seattle 7
Saves: Vancouver 3 - Seattle 4
Fouls: Vancouver 7 - Seattle 7
Corners: Vancouver 0 - Seattle 3
Offsides: Vancouver 1 - Seattle 3
72' - VAN - Tiffany Weimer
77' - VAN - Amber Brooks
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
29.Kristen Funk; 3.Shannon Woeller, 4.Lexi Marton, 22.Kelsey Hood, 15.Krista Kruse; 30.Ranee Premji (7.Tina Romagnuolo 45'), 8.Tiffany Weimer (18.Monica Lam-Feist '80), 23.Amber Brooks; 17.Carrie Patterson (6.Amy Vermeulen 63'), 9.Sydney Leroux, 20.Jen Stoltenberg
Subs not used: 35.Jaclyn Dunnett, 10.Tseng Shu-O, 24.Jaclyn Sawicki, 25.Ciara McCormack,
0.Elizabeth Ruiz; 12.Tiana Brockway, 10.Jamie Coe (4.Justina MacDowell 82'), 18.Nance Hill, 16.Jordan Salisbury (2.Caroline Brawner 76'); 8.Jane Mitchell, 13.Sophie Reiser, 20.Lindsay Elston (14.Mily Reiter 85'); 17.Kathryn Bennett, 19.Kara Kuttler (6.Erin Redwine 57'), 7.Justi Baumgardt (22.Emily Hurd 62'
Subs not used: 1.Maidson Goverde, 15.Tari Coffey