Following their 2-1 home defeat to Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders FC U-23 on Friday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 fought hard to earn a 1-1 draw in their first road match of the season versus Victoria Highlanders FC in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL). The ‘Caps shared the spoils, and the points towards the supporters-driven 'Juan De Fuca Plate' competition with their British Columbia rivals.
Victoria entered the match a day after their opening PDL clash with Sounders FC U-23 on the same pitch at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park, which also ended in a 1-1 draw. Vancouver opted for creativity in attack with a 4-3-3 line-up -much like the formation against Sounders FC on Friday. Fresh off being named PDL Player of the Week, Carlos Marquez made his second start to the season alongside MLS roster strikers Long Tan and Caleb Clarke.
The match quickly began to illustrate the history between the two sides, as many battles for possession would add to the foul count, Victoria finding themselves on the end of 12, and four for Vancouver after the first half. Despite the gritty defensive display from Highlanders FC, it was Vancouver who chose their shot wisely, as the combined creativity of Gagandeep Dosanjh and Marquez was crucial in setting up Tan for the opening goal on the 40-minute mark to make it 1-0 for the ‘Caps.
Victoria had other ideas, however, as a quick response to the goal was delivered by midfielder Craig Gorman at the end of the first half, finding his third all-time goal for Victoria after the ‘Caps were caught off guard from a throw-in.
The second half kicked off with many threatening chances for Whitecaps FC, who kept a high tempo in possession and were keen to breakdown the Highlanders FC defence once again. Victoria proved to be just as deadly, with repeated counter-attacking prowess that was a handful for Vancouver centre backs Ben McKendry and James Farenhorst, who continued to keep their side in the contest.
In the end, it appeared that a stalemate was inevitable, as both sides would continue to block out any go-ahead goal, thus setting the stage for more close affairs within the very strong PDL Northwest Division.
After the match, Whitecaps FC U-23 head coach Craig Dalrymple acknowledged the solid effort of his side. “It was a hard fought game for sure," he told whitecapsfc.com. "Victoria are committed to their approach, very workman like and we had to match that work ethic if we were to get the result. We talked about defending from set-pieces and we were unfortunate to concede from the throw-in, but we’re continuing to show more wit in our attack, we just lacked that midas touch today.”
Next for Whitecaps FC U-23 is another away match on Wednesday night at Bateman Park in Abbotsford, BC, for the second showdown of the 'Juan De Fuca Plate' against Lower Mainland rivals Fraser Valley Mariners at 7:30 p.m. PT.
40' – VAN – Long Tan
45' – VIC – Craig Gorman (Jared Stephens)
Shots: Vancouver 6 – Victoria 10
Saves: Vancouver 6 – Victoria 3
Fouls: Vancouver 8 – Victoria 19
Offsides: Vancouver 5 – Victoria 1
Corners: Vancouver 2 – Victoria 4
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
1.Callum Irving; 9.Adam Polakiewicz, 2.James Farenhorst, 8.Ben McKendry, 5.Bobby Jhutty; 16.Gagandeep Dosanjh, 11.Reynold Stewart, 10.Ben Fisk (21.Michael Marousek 80'); 9.Caleb Clarke, 24.Long Tan, 6.Carlos Marquez (3.Wesley Cain 45')
Substitutes not used: 30.Sean Melvin, 12.Declan Rodriguez, 19.Sang Hwang, 20.Tyrin Hutchings, 22.Bryce Alderson
Victoria Highlanders FC
29.Elliott Mitrou; 2.Kalem Scott, 9.Matt Mehrassa, 13.Tyler Hughes, 18.Liam Davis; 11.Craig Gorman (6.Josh Heard 68’), 12.Sasa Plavsic (20.Thomas Mallette 45’), 15.Andrew Ravenhill, 16.Sourosh Amani; 10.Ashley Burbeary, 19.Jared Stephens (17.Jordan Hughes 68’)
Substitutes not used: 30.Brock Reed, 7.David Adams, 8.Bobby Eng, 23.Stephen Ewashko