Atiba Harris close up
Bob Frid

Whitecaps FC earn first MLS Reserve League win of 2012 in San Jose

In their first away match of the 2012 MLS Reserve League season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves (1W-0L-1D) defeated San Jose Earthquakes reserves (1W-1L-0D) 2-1 on Easter Sunday in Northern California.

Goals by Long Tan and Atiba Harris secured a first win of the season for the ‘Caps second string at the Earthquakes Training Facility in San Jose, California. Anthony Ampaipitakwong had the lone reply for an experienced Earthquakes reserves side during this Reserve League West Division contest.

“I think the guys were excellent today,” Whitecaps FC assistant coach Carl Robinson told “The first half was very positive, with a lot of exceptional midfield play and forward thinking play. We managed to get the goal and maybe could have scored two or three more goals. The second half was slightly different with regards to the pressure San Jose put on us. We conceded, but showed great attitude to score and bounce back correctly.”

Robinson included Harris – who was suspended from Saturday’s first-team match – and midfielder Matt Watson in his starting XI on Sunday. Watson made a late substitute appearance in Saturday’s 3-1 Major League Soccer defeat to the Quakes. The Blue and White created early chances through Harris and Omar Salgado, while Tan went close to opening the scoring on 10 minutes with a fierce 25-yard strike that struck the San Jose crossbar.

On the half-hour mark, the Earthquakes reserves were handed a chance to take the lead from the penalty spot after Whitecaps FC youngster Bryce Alderson was adjudged to have handled the ball in his own box. Midfielder Ellis McLoughlin took the spot kick for San Jose, but he put his effort well over the crossbar.

That miss allowed the Canadian visitors to take the lead on 38 minutes. Harris made a fine run through the middle of the pitch before finding Tan to his right. The Chinese striker’s first-time finish beat Earthquakes goalkeeper David Bingham at the near post and gave Whitecaps FC reserves a 1-0 lead at halftime.

The second half saw Robinson use his three outfield substitutes in Whitecaps FC Residency youngsters Sam Adekugbe, Caleb Clarke, and Ben McKendry. It was a second-straight Reserve League appearance for Adekugbe and McKendry, while Clarke made his first reserve team appearance of 2012.

San Jose looked to get back on level terms after the restart. On 51 minutes, Peruvian-born striker Cesar Diaz Pizarro forced ‘Caps goalkeeper Brad Knighton into tipping his close-range strike off his own crossbar. The Earthquakes reserves would find their equalizer on 77 minutes, as Ampaipitakwong converted on the rebound after Knighton had initially saved Sam Garza’s solid strike on target.

Vancouver’s response to San Jose’s leveller was immediate, however, as Harris got on the scoresheet with a close-range header a minute later. Like in their season-opening draw with Seattle Sounders FC reserves last month, Salgado was the provider to a Whitecaps FC reserves goal with another fine cross, as the visitors claimed the 2-1 victory.

Whitecaps FC reserves will return home for their next Reserve League match on Sunday, April 22, as they host Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers reserves at Swangard Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. PT and admission is free of charge.

Scoring summary:
38' - VAN - Long Tan (Atiba Harris)
77’ - SJ - Anthony Ampaipitakwong (Sam Garza)
78’ - VAN - Atiba Harris (Omar Salgado)

Match Stats:
Shots: San Jose 20 - Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: San Jose 8 - Vancouver 7
Saves: San Jose 5 - Vancouver 7
Fouls: San Jose 20 - Vancouver 14
Offsides: San Jose 3 - Vancouver 1
Corners: San Jose 2 - Vancouver 4

Vancouver Whitecaps FC reserves
18.Brad Knighton; 32.Greg Klazura, 2.Michael Boxall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 31.Russell Teibert; 9.Atiba Harris, 16.Matt Watson, 36.Bryce Alderson (43.Ben McKendry* 78’), 35.Ben Fisk* (30.Sam Adekugbe* 55’); 17.Omar Salgado, 23.Long Tan (34.Caleb Clarke* 68’)

Substitutes not used: 24.Callum Irving*

*Whitecaps FC Residency player

San Jose Earthquakes reserves
1.David Bingham; 32.Josh Suggs, 21.Jason Hernandez, 55.Ike Opara, 5.Brad Ring; 25.Ellis McLoughlin, 23.Anthony Ampaipitakwong, 14.Jean-Marc Alexandre; 19.Sam Garza, 36.Sullivan Silva**, 27.Cesar Diaz Pizarro

Substitutes: 13.Evan Newton, 29.Elisamo Padilla*, 43.Christian De Luna*

*San Jose Earthquakes Academy player