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Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 fight back for thrilling 3-3 draw at Sounders FC U-23

In their second meeting in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL), Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (2W-2L-2D) earned a thrilling 3-3 draw in a closely contested match versus Seattle Sounders FC U-23 (2W-1L-3D) at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington, on Wednesday night.

Vancouver came into the match determined for a first set of points against Cascadia opposition, having faltered at home to Portland Timbers U-23 in their previous match. In just their second home match of the PDL season, Seattle were fuelled with a fan-filled home advantage to find their first win on their own turf.

First-half action was well dictated by the U-23 'Caps in the opposing stadium, with a majority of possession and attacking coming in the U-23 Sounders third. Pressure soon began to mount into results for the 'Caps, as Vancouver snatched the lead through in-form captain Gagandeep Dosanjh, who joined Caleb Clarke for a sprint into the penalty area and connected with a low cross in the 15th minute.

Despite continuous threats from Vancouver just three minutes later, Seattle were quick to turn the match around, beginning with the steady hands of Sounders U-23 goalkeeper Doug Herrick in net. Fernando Monge continued to display his solid form this season with a near-assist to Sean Okoli, who was close to connecting with the midfielder's cross from the right sideline.

Whitecaps FC U-23 had a total of eight shots in the first half alone, but were unable to keep a grip on their lead until the break, as Luis Esteves made several quick give-and-go passes to break through from his left wing and slot away an equalizer on 38 minutes.

The U-23 Sounders made the most of their second-half start, with just two minutes needed to take the lead through a strike outside the area from Aodhan Quinn on 47 minutes. Things quickly went from bad to worse for the ‘Caps, as Monge was again a handful for the Blue and White by stealing possession at the halfway line before successfully assisting on a breakaway goal by Okoli in the 52nd minute.

With a two-goal deficit on their hands, Vancouver employed some tenacity in the 72nd minute, getting a goal from Clarke through a crowded box to bring the game back within one at 3-2.

Herrick consistently shut down the 'Caps as the game entered the dying minutes. However, his efforts were not enough for a calmly-finessed header by Ben Fisk in the 86th minute, giving the ‘Caps a crucial point and helping to maintain an undefeated road record in the PDL this season.

“The first 45 minutes was the best we’ve played all season,” Whitecaps FC U-23 head coach Craig Dalrymple told “It was unfortunate to go into the half level after creating so many close chances. We had a sloppy first ten minutes in the second half, but our character and desire to get something was there. The team can take those final 30 minutes to Portland and be highly motivated for some points this time around.”

Whitecaps FC U-23 will conclude their participation in the PDL edition of the Cascadia Cup head-to-head matches this Friday when they travel to The City of Roses to face Portland Timbers U-23 for what is expected to be a boisterous re-match at JELD-WEN Field. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT, with thousands of local students expected to attend.

Scoring Summary:
15' - VAN - Gagandeep Dosanjh (Ben Fisk)
38' - SFC - Luis Esteves (Aodhan Quinn)
47' - SFC - Aodhan Quinn
52' - SFC - Sean Okoli (Fernando Monge)
72' - VAN - Caleb Clarke
86' - VAN - Ben Fisk (Bobby Jhutty)

Match Stats:
Shots: Vancouver 13 – Sounders FC 9
Saves: Vancouver 6 – Sounders FC 9
Fouls: Vancouver 6 – Sounders FC 5
Offsides: Vancouver 5 – Sounders FC 6
Corners: Vancouver 1 – Sounders FC 1

Seattle Sounders FC U-23
1.Doug Herrick; 3.Mark Lee,15.Anthony Arena, 20.DeAndre Yedlin, 6.Chris Brundage, 10.Fernando Monge, 13.Nick McCluskey, 14.Luis Esteves (21.Tyson Crim 64'), 17.Sean Morris (19.Liam Kelly 66'), 23.Sean Okoli (18.Mauricio Diaz de Leon 79'), 8.Aodhan Quinn

Substitutes not used: 31.Rodney Greiling, 5.Taylor Peay, 9.Facundo Dipasquale, 16.Troy Peterson

Vancouver Whitecaps  FC U-23
1.Callum Irving; 14.Daniel Stanese (4.Shawn Parkes 57’), 9.Adam Polakiewicz, 5.Bobby Jhutty, 2.James Farenhorst, 8.Ben McKendry, 16.Gagandeep Dosanjh, 7.Yassin Essa (18.Cam Hundal 65’), 22.Bryce Alderson (15.Gagan Josan 80’); 10.Ben Fisk, 23.Caleb Clarke

Substitutes not used: 30.Lucas Menz, 6.Carlos Marquez, 11.Reynold Stewart, 21.Michael Marousek