VANCOUVER, BC – On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium, Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (6W-4L-3D) defeated Washington Crossfire (4W- 7L-3D) 1-0 in (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) play.
With the three points, Whitecaps FC officially clinched one of three playoff spots in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) Northwest Division. Niall Cousens’ strike in the 14th minute was the difference between the two teams.
The win follows a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Portland Timbers U-23 on Friday night.
The match got off to scintillating start with a quality scoring opportunity for both teams to open the scoring within the first 10 minutes.
In what was nearly the first action of the match off kickoff, Kevin Cobby switched the play on a long ball to Colton O’Neill who found Marlon Ramirez in the box, the striker had his shot stopped by Mike Arguello, Washington’s goalkeeper.
Five minutes later, Christian Roldan’s crossed the ball into Ian Adams who saw his header hit the post.
On 14 minutes, Cam Hundal slipped a lovely through ball into the path of Niall Cousens who fired a shot past the Arguello’s out stretched arms to make it 1-0 for the Blue and White.
With four minutes to go until the half, Washington failed to capitalize on their best chance to equalize. After a series of deflections in Vancouver’s penalty area that drew Marco Carducci out of his goal, the ball landed for Washington’s Niccolo Piacentini who fired his shot too high on a wide open net.
The start of the second half saw Washington Crossfire press higher in an attempt to draw even. The Crossfire had several glorious opportunities stopped by Marco Carducci.
On 67 minutes, the ‘Caps had a free kick on the edge of the box; however Sasa Plavsic’s attempted cross to the far post was cleared by Washington’s back line.
In the 73rd minute, Cobby was tripped in the box by Washington’s Garrett Jackson, which the referee called for a penalty. Cousens stepped up to the spot with a chance to double his tally but his effort was fisted away by Arguello, keeping Washington in the game.
Seven minutes later, Matthew Sarrett looked to be in on goal from 10 yards out but James Farenhorst hustled back to make a goal-saving tackle. Farenhorst was hurt on the play and needed assistance off the field.
On the ensuing Washington corner, Matthew Fischer got his head to the inviting ball but Carducci spurned the header with a two-handed save.
Despite the result that clinched them a playoff spot, head coach Stuart Neely expects more out of his team going forward.
“Three points don’t always need to be pretty when you get them, but today was a real ugly three points and we got it,” said Neely. “We kept possession in spells and made life very difficult for them.
“The first step is to finish the league healthy, the second step is to focus on the playoff game and to come out of that with a positive result, anything from there is gravy.”
The U-23s play their regular season finale this coming Wednesday when they visit North Sound SeaWolves in Edmonds, Washington. Kickoff for that match is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT.
14' – VAN – Niall Cousens (Cam Hundal)
Shots: Vancouver 17 – Washington 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 9 - Washington 4
Saves: Vancouver 4 - Washington 8
Fouls: Vancouver 8 - Washington 15
Offsides: Vancouver 1 - Washington 2
Corners: Vancouver 3 - Washington 2
88’ – VAN – Aminu Abdallah
90+4’ – WAS – Nik Besagno
22.Marco Carducci; 6.Jon Poli, 4.James Farenhorst (20.Aminu Abdallah 85’), 26.Kevin Cobby, 16.Michael Winter; 10.Bobby Jhutty, 17.Niall Cousens, 23.Cam Hundal, 2.Colton O’Neill; 12.Sasa Plavsic (24.Peter Bow 69’), 18.Marlon Ramirez (3.Ethen Sampson 90’)