DALLAS, TX – Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 continued their United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoff dominance with a 5-2 win against Houston Dynamo U-18 on Wednesday evening at FC Dallas Sports Park.
Yassin Essa had a brace, Jordan Haynes and Marco Bustos both scored singles, and regular season USSDA goalscoring leader Brody Huitema continued his scoring prowess in the win that puts the ‘Caps in great position to claim the top spot in their group to qualify for Academy Finals Week. To do this, the ‘Caps now just need a single point in Thursday’s final group match against PA Classics, who played to a 0-0 draw with Chicago Fire U-18 in the other Group 1 match on Tuesday.
On 15 minutes, the first goal of the match came for the Dynamo as a free kick in the box caused a defensive scramble, which led to a ball being poked past ‘Caps goalkeeper Sean Melvin for the early 1-0 lead.
Just six minutes later, on 22 minutes, the travelling Blue and White equalized as scoring sensation Huitema, who had 26 goals across 22 matches in the regular season, headed a cross from Essa into the back of the net to make it 1-1.
In the 36th minute, the ‘Caps solid play paid off again as Titouan Chopin laid the ball off to Bustos, who tapped the ball in past the Houston goalkeeper for a 2-1 advantage.
A confident Blue and White side entered halftime looking to hold their lead and capture their second straight win of their playoff campaign.
From the start of the final 45 minutes, the ‘Caps were on the front foot, with many chances coming from crosses into the box.
However, on 60 minutes, the Dynamo countered with their own opportunity that resulted in a goal that equalized the match after a lapse on the defensive end.
Just minutes later, Essa led the ‘Caps offence to another goal as the Canadian crew went back in front. The young striker collected the ball at the halfway line and carried it all the way up field, finally striking a beautiful shot from 20 yards out that sailed into the net for the go-ahead goal.
The young ‘Caps struck again later in the second half as Haynes earned the 'Caps fourth goal by stealing the ball from the Houston defender and slotting it home to give his side a 4-2 lead going into the late stages of the match.
With minutes remaining, Whitecaps FC continued their offensive spurt with another goal. After Chopin was taken down in the box, Essa stepped up to bury the spot kick for a 5-2 final.
With that, the ‘Caps continued their winning ways by earning a dominating 5-2 win.
Head coach Gordon Forrest was extremely pleased with the team’s effort on a hot night in Dallas.
“It was another fantastic team performance,” said Forrest. “They gave everything they could in the game. We’ve had two difficult matches against tough MLS competition, in difficult conditions as well because of the heat. The boys deserve a lot of credit.”
Next up, the Blue and White finish play in Group 1 when they face PA Classics on Thursday, June 27, at FC Dallas Sports Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 a.m. PT. Live updates will be available at twitter.com/whitecapsmatch.
Whitecaps FC U-18 lineup:
Sean Melvin; Quinton Duncan, Jackson Farmer, Nicholas Prasad, Sam Adekugde; Mitch Piraux, Kianz Froese (Jordan Haynes 45’), Marco Bustos; Titouan Chopin, Yassin Essa, Brody Huitema (Matthew Chow 60’)