CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA — Vancouver Whitecaps FC suffered their first defeat of the preseason by a score of 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday morning at Grande Sports World.
After surrendering two goals in the opening 20 minutes, a second-half surge brought the 'Caps to within one goal of their Cascadia rival but Vancouver's comeback effort would ultimately fall just short.
Hear what Carl Robinson had to say about Thursday's match
"There were a lot of positives, but there were also some negatives in regards to what I want and what I demand," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. "I think we had some very good attacking combinations in both halves … obviously, the defending in the first half for me was nowhere near where it should be. We're looking at certain things and details in collective scenarios. We'll review the video and we'll sit down with the players and move forward."
Second-year winger/striker Erik Hurtado, who came on at halftime, scored Whitecaps FC's lone goal with a stunning half-volley off the run. Less than a minute into the second half, midfielder Matt Watson played a perfect ball over the top to a streaking Hurtado, who hit it first time with the outside of his foot into the top left corner of the goal.
"I think Erik Hurtado's performance in the second half is as good as I've seen since he's been with the club," said Robinson. "He's playing with a spring in his step at the moment. He's got a confidence about him and a desire both on the ball and off the ball as well."
Hurtado, who was playing as the lone central forward, was lively throughout the second half. His best opportunity to equalize came just before the 80-minute mark, when he broke in all alone only to be disrupted by a sliding Marcus Hahnemann.
The 23-year-old also had a few combination plays with Omar Salgado, who played about 30 minutes for the second straight day, but the duo simply couldn't find the back of the net.
Unlike Wednesday's match, in which Robinson fielded a lineup composed mainly of trialists, Residency players, and recent draft picks, the 'Caps went with a more experienced squad against the Sounders on Thursday.
Vancouver's starting lineup included the likes of goalkeeper David Ousted, defender Jay DeMerit and midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. DeMerit looked particularly sharp in his 45 minutes of action, making no fewer than three sliding clearances in the first half to keep the game within reach.
Thursday's match also marked the debut of recent Uruguayan additions Sebastien Fernandez and Nicolas Mezquida, who each played 45 minutes. Robinson said he thought both players looked "bright" and "lively" with their attacking combinations in the first half.
Midfielder Fabio Pereira and striker Kevin Parsemain scored Seattle's goals in the eighth and 17th minutes respectively. Pereira's goal came off a scramble in front of goal, while Parsemain finished off a perfect Dylan Remick cross from the left corner.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a rematch with the Sounders on Sunday at Tucson Stadium. Kickoff is set for 10:30 a.m. PT and the match will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com.
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Match Stats: Shots: Vancouver 13 - Seattle 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 2 - Seattle 4
Saves: Vancouver 3 - Seattle 1
Fouls: Vancouver 11 - Seattle 5
Offsides: Vancouver 1 - Seattle 1
Corners: Vancouver 5 - Seattle 2
48' - VAN - Jordan Harvey
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
+Whitecaps FC Residency
^Whitecaps FC U-23
Seattle Sounders FC
First Half: Marcus Hahnemann, Michael Azira (David Estrada 45'), Zach Scott (Damion Lowe 45'), Jalil Anibaba (Tarek Morad 45'), Dylan Remick (Aaron Kovar 45'), Sean Okoli (Long Tan 45'), Andy Rose (Michael Azira 69’), Fabio Pereira (Dzenan Catic 45'), Stefani Rijssel (Miguel Gonzalez 45'), Chad Barrett (Kenny Cooper 45'), Kevin Parsemain (Eriq Zavaleta 45')
Whitecaps FC begin their 2014 MLS season on March 8 versus New York Red Bulls at BC Place. Season tickets start at just $349, subject to applicable fees. The 'Caps also offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets ($199), and a youth soccer half-season ticket ($100). For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.