Day two of the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs is now in the books, and what a day it was for Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency.
Both Residency teams were in action Tuesday in Frisco, Texas, as the U-18 ‘Caps rebounded from their day one defeat, while the U-16's claimed a victory in their playoff opener.
It was not their most dominant performance of the season, but luckily for Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-16 (1W-0L-0D), it did not need to be.
Scoring sensation Brody Huitema found the back of the net twice, as the U-16 ‘Caps held on for a 2-1 victory over FC Greater Boston U-16/17 (0W-1L-0D) in their USSDA playoff opener on Tuesday afternoon.
On an afternoon when temperatures reached upwards of 40 degrees Celsius in Frisco, Texas, heat was an obvious factor, as both teams played conservatively in the opening stages of the match.
“We went out there knowing we needed to manage ourselves in the conditions, in terms of the heat against an opposition that we hadn’t seen before,” Whitecaps FC Residency head coach Craig Dalrymple told whitecapsfc.com. “The boys will never play in heat like that again, I’m sure, but it’s part of their development.”
Though the Bolts hit the crossbar and dictated the play in the opening half hour, it was the ‘Caps who drew first blood off a corner in the 30th minute. After midfielder Sebastian Cabrera sent a nice ball into the box, an unmarked Huitema finished with a well-placed header to put the ‘Caps in front.
The always-dangerous striker was at it again just after the break, receiving a perfectly slotted ball from defender Sam Adekugbe and making it 2-0 for the Blue and White in the 43rd minute.
“He chose the right moments and was clinical when he got his opportunities,” Dalrymple said of Huitema, who has now scored 22 goals in 23 USSDA appearances this season. “He’s really maturing into a great striker.”
Despite conceding a goal within the first few minutes of the second half, Boston kept pressing, looking to claw their way back into the match. And they found what they were looking for in the 50th minute with an unstoppable strike from the top of the box to cut Vancouver’s lead in half.
With an important three points still in reach, the play opened up in the final half-hour, with chances on both ends of the pitch, but the ‘Caps did just enough to hold on and seal the victory.
“We got a goal in the first half, which settled us down, then our character and mental strength really took over and enabled us to go on and win the game,” Dalrymple said.
In other Group 3 action Tuesday, Charlotte Soccer Academy (1W-0L-0D) from Matthew, North Carolina, upset the top-seeded South Carolina United Battery (0W-1L-0D) with a 3-1 victory.
This sets up an important match-up on Wednesday when the ‘Caps continue their road to the USSDA Final Eight with a 4:30 p.m. PT showdown against Charlotte Soccer Academy, before concluding group play on Friday against South Carolina.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-16 Residency
Nolan Wirth; Quinton Duncan, Jackson Farmer, Alex Comsia, Sam Adekugbe; Liam Elbourne (Kalifala Konneh 60'), Mitchell Piraux, Titouan Chopin (Marco Bustos 40’); Sebastian Cabrera (Matthew van der Eyden 53'), Matthew Chow (Jordan Haynes 38'), Brody Huitema (Parker Ellis 51’)
After suffering a heartbreaking defeat in their playoff opener, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 (1W-1L-0D) are right back in the thick of things in Group 2 thanks to a 4-0 victory over Weston FC (1W-1L-0D) in Frisco, Texas, on Tuesday evening.
After a slow-tempo first half that saw the ‘Caps come out with a 1-0 lead, the Blue and White exploded with three more goals after the break to pick up an important three points with just one match remaining.
While doing so, they shut out a Weston FC side that scored more goals than any other team in the USSDA's South Conference this season.
“We were fantastic tonight. We kept a clean sheet and we scored some fantastic goals,” Whitecaps FC first-team assistant coach Paul Ritchie told whitecapsfc.com. “I was critical of them last night, but tonight, they bounced back and gave themselves an opportunity to still qualify and make the finals in July.”
Midfielder Ben McKendry opened the scoring for the ‘Caps in the 17th minute after midfielder Ben Fisk beat his marker and made a brilliant run down the left flank, before feeding McKendry, who finished with ease.
Despite some sloppy play from both sides, the score remained 1-0 until halftime. The ‘Caps came out energized after the interval, knowing a loss or draw could mathematically eliminate them from contention.
Fisk was in on the scoring again in the 54th minute. The midfielder sent a darting Yassin Essa in all alone and the striker made no mistake, beating the Weston FC goalkeeper to give the ‘Caps a 2-0 advantage.
Striker Carlos Marquez made it 3-0 for the ‘Caps with a cheeky back-heel tally in the 85th minute and Carlos Patino added one more for good measure in stoppage time, as the Blue and White cruised to a 4-0 victory.
Now, the U-18 Residency squad have a day off before they meet Texans SC Houston (0W-2L-0D) on Thursday morning at 7 a.m. PT in their final match of this first playoff round.
Depending on the results of the other Group 2 match on Thursday between Pateadores (2W-0L-0D) and Weston FC, the ‘Caps could still claim the top spot in the group and advance to the USSDA Final Eight.
If any teams are tied on points at the end of the group stage, goal differential then comes into play as first tiebreaker. Both the ‘Caps and Pateadores boast a goal differential of +3, while Weston FC currently sits at -3.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency
Callum Irving; Declan Rodriguez, Tim Hickson (Jan van Blerk 82'), Daniel Stanese, Adam Polakiewicz; Ben McKendry, Alex Rowley, Bryce Alderson (Spencer De Boice 45'); Ben Fisk (Carlos Patino 55'), Sadi Jalali (Carlos Marquez 60'), Yassin Essa (Wesley Cain 78')