On a beautiful summer's evening at Bateman Park, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency (5W-4L-2D) fell to a 1-0 defeat at British Columbia rivals Abbotsford Mariners (4W-5L-2D) in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action on Monday evening.
Mariners midfielder Adriano Negri was a force to be reckoned with all night for the Fraser Valley outfit and took control of the match on 61 minutes to lead a ten-man Abbotsford squad to their first PDL victory over the young 'Caps this season.
Negri battled hard all night, dispossessing Residency players with strategic tackles, using his speed well to find open space, and frustrate his opponents by wreaking havoc in the Residency box. Yet, it was not until halfway through the second half that Negri found the bounce needed to secure a Mariners victory. He intercepted an attempted clearance off an Abbotsford corner and pounded home his first goal of the season past a sprawling Brian Sylvestre in the 'Caps goal.
Residency head coach Richard Grootscholten was pleased with his team’s effort, though the Dutchman is looking for more consistency in the opposition's half. "Tonight, we did a lot of good things, but we gave one chance away from a corner kick, and so we have to be much more aggressive in our box," he told whitecapsfc.com. "In the final third of the field, we still need to be more aggressive. We scored three goals in our last match, but tonight, we had none."
The match began in stagnant fashion, with neither side displaying any type of true emotion or energy. Both teams attempted to establish a strong possession game, which suited the Residency team's style of play. The first opportunity went to the 'Caps on the quarter-hour mark when a well-placed corner caused trouble in the Abbotsford box, but was easily contained by Mariners goalkeeper Lucas Mens.
Mens provided steady goalkeeping all night, a reason for Abbotsford claiming victory on Monday. With the Residency team firing six shots on goal, Mens was perfect with his rebound control and positioning to earn the clean sheet. His most important save came late in the second half when Residency forward Caleb Clarke managed to find the ball in the Abbotsford box and strike it across Mens' body for what looked like a sure Vancouver goal. But Mens was equal to the task, extending his left leg and making a spectacular toe stop to keep the match in the Mariners' favour.
The match also fell victim to some suspect refereeing that saw two red cards shown. The sendings off began on 57 minutes when Abbotsford striker Sasa Plavsic believed he was fouled before the ball travelled over the touchline. As Plavsic fell, his hands landed on the ball and the referee rewarded the Residency team a free kick. However, Plavsic picked up the ball and threw it directly into the head of 'Caps defender Alex Rowley - an action that prompted a straight red card.
The Residency team nearly earned a draw late in time added on when a splendid cross from Philippe Davies found substitute winger Yassin Essa, whose header almost grazed the Mariners' crossbar. The action did not stop, as some suspicious tackling from both teams saw Ben McKendry shown a straight red card for arguing with the referee with only seconds left in the match. In the end, Whitecaps FC could not find the equalizer, as they split their weekend pair of PDL matches at one win and one defeat.
With the conclusion of 'Caps Canada Week', Whitecaps FC Residency will continue with their road spell, as they head to Washington State to battle Tacoma Tide on Friday night. Abbotsford, meanwhile, complete a back-to-back home stand when they host PDL Western Conference, Northwest Division leaders Kitsap Pumas on Tuesday night.
61' - ABB - Adriano Negri (Daniel Lowen)
Shots: Abbotsford 4 – Vancouver 6
Saves: Abbotsford 6 – Vancouver 2
Fouls: Abbotsford 7 – Vancouver 22
Offsides: Abbotsford 1 – Vancouver 5
Corners: Abbotsford 4 – Vancouver 8
84' - ABB - Ethan Claibourne Collins
56' - ABB - Sasha Plavsic
90+' - VAN - Ben McKendry
Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency
30.Brian Sylvestre; 25.Alex Rowley, 4.Daniel Stanese (18.Ben McKendry 73'), 5.Derrick Bassi, 3.La’Vere Corbin-Ong (19.Adam Polakiewicz 84'); 16.Philippe Davies, 8.Bryce Alderson (24.Carlos Marquez 75'), 17.Alexandre Morfaw, 11.Spencer DeBoice (23.Yassin Essa 60'); 9.Caleb Clarke, 10.Ben Fisk
Subs not used: 1.Callum Irving, 6.Matteo Pasquotti, 12.Tim Hickson
1.Lucas Mens, 17.Kyle Knees, 15.James Farenhorst, 3.Colton O’Neill, 6.Brent Wantke, 13.Adam Plantinga, 20.Juan Palbo Mora Perea, 5.Mohammad Aziz, 21.Adriano Negri (2.Cody Strelau 85’) 18.Daniel Lowen (12.Ethan Claibourne Collins 69’), 8.Sasa Plavsic
Subs not used: 22.Andrew Kowan, 4.Spencer MacKinnon, 14.Nicholas Haywood, 16.Trevor O’Neill, 19.Mynor Campos Jr.