Whitecaps FC striker Long Tan

Whitecaps FC draw MLS Reserve League season opener versus Seattle

Playing their first MLS Reserve League match of 2012, Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves (0W-0L-1D) earned a very late 1-1 home draw with Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC reserves (0W-0L-1D) on Monday.

Carlyle Mitchell’s header in second-half stoppage time earned a young Vancouver reserve squad a share of the spoils in their season-opening game in the Reserve League’s West Division. The Trinidad & Tobago international’s goal cancelled out Alex Caskey’s second-half strike for Seattle’s second string on a cool and wet spring day at Thunderbird Stadium on the campus of the University of British Columbia (UBC).

“There were a lot of good things, a lot of positives today,” said Whitecaps FC assistant coach Paul Ritchie. “There were a lot of individual performances, especially from the younger players, that they can be proud of. It was good to get the goal at the end, as I thought we deserved to get something out of the game, and it continues the whole philosophy that we are trying to instill in the club. That is to try and not lose anything. If it can start at this level and younger, then it prepares the younger players for when they get that opportunity to play in the first team.”

Playing a more senior side at UBC, Ezra Hendrickson’s Sounders FC reserves tested ‘Caps goalkeeper Brad Knighton during the first half, with Christian Sivebaek and Sammy Ochoa forcing saves from the former New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union shot-stopper. At the other end, Whitecaps FC striker Omar Salgado had a couple of half-chances before the break. The best chance of the opening half fell to the visitors on 34 minutes, but Caskey’s low cross just eluded a sliding Andy Rose in front of the ‘Caps goal. It remained goalless at halftime.

Monday’s match was an opportunity for Whitecaps FC to play several of their talented youngsters in the club’s Residency program. Ritchie and fellow first-team assistant coach Carl Robinson started Yassin Essa and Ben Fisk in wide midfield positions before introducing Sam Adekugbe, Ben McKendry, and Carlos Marquez to Monday’s action in the second half. “Games like today are great breeding grounds for these young players,” Ritchie said. “It gives them the opportunity to see what the next step is like, as we played an experienced Seattle team today.”

After the restart, Sounders FC reserves created more chances through Sivebaek and Ochoa before young ‘Caps substitute McKendry connected with a fine volley that flew just wide of the target shortly after the hour mark. On 72 minutes, Seattle took the lead when Caskey slammed home a close-range shot following a scramble in the Whitecaps FC box. Trailing by a goal in the late stages, the ‘Caps reserves pressed hard for an equalizer, with McKendry forcing Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith into an important save from his well-struck piledriver on 83 minutes.

As the match entered time added on, Mitchell had moved forward from his centre back position to boost the Vancouver attack. The versatile Caribbean’s efforts paid off, as he headed Salgado’s fine cross from the left off the underside of Seattle’s crossbar and into the net to earn Vancouver a 1-1 result.

Whitecaps FC will return to Reserve League action early next month, as they visit Northern California to take on San Jose Earthquakes reserves on Sunday, April 8.

Scoring Summary:
72' - SEA – Alex Caskey
90'+1 – VAN – Carlyle Mitchell (Omar Salgado)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 5 – Seattle 10
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 3 – Seattle 4
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Seattle 3
Fouls: Vancouver 5 – Seattle 7
Offsides: Vancouver 1 – Seattle 2
Corners: Vancouver 4 – Seattle 3

36' - SEA – Daniel Steres
69' - SEA – Leonardo Gonzalez

Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves
1.Brad Knighton; 32 Greg Klazura, 2.Michael Boxall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 3.Jordan Harvey (36.Sam Adekugbe* 45'); 31.Yassin Essa* (42.Carlos Marquez* 27'), 28.Gershon Koffie, 26.Floyd Franks (34.Ben McKendry* 53'), 35.Ben Fisk*, 17.Omar Salgado, 23.Long Tan

*Whitecaps FC Residency player

Seattle Sounders FC reserves
35.Bryan Meredith; 41.Ian Lange**, 31.Jeff Parke, 38.Daniel Steres, 12.Leonardo Gonzalez; 22 Mike Seamon (39.Dominique Dismuke** 70'), 25.Andy Rose, 23.Servando Carrasco, 28.Christian Sivebaek; 26.Sammy Ochoa, 27.Alex Caskey

**Sounders FC Academy player