Redmond, WA - Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 finally earned their first victory of the 2014 United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) season with a 2-1 win against Washington Crossfire at Redmond High School on Tuesday evening. The ‘Caps put up an impressive road performance, locking down the opposition in the first half, and taking control in the second.
The work rate was there in the first half, as it always is for the Blue and White, but Washington put up two solid lines of defenders that the ‘Caps could not penetrate. Unfortunately for Crossfire, they were also shut down by the 'Caps – Vancouver rarely let anything get close to goalkeeper Marco Carducci, and on the off chance they did, the Calgarian keeper was there to stymie any opportunity. The first half fittingly ended in a 0-0 deadlock.
Assistant coach Steve Meadley saw the defensive first half battle in a positive light. “We played really well. Our work rate was good, they were strong and played well defensively,” Meadley told whitecapsfc.com “We felt that if we kept going, it was just a matter of time before we would break them down.”
Eventually, the ‘Caps did just that. However, it wasn’t before facing a little adversity, as in the 51st minute, a long ball made its way to a Crossfire striker, who headed it to Hamza Haddadi. The Washington attacker then raced onto the ball, broke in all alone and beat Carducci to make it 1-0.
The resilient bunch that they are, Whitecaps FC U-23 didn’t take long to respond. A mere nine minutes later, Marco Bustos tied it up following a pretty passing play at the top of the 18-yard box that left Washington defenders helpless and Bustos in one-on-one with the Crossfire keeper. Considering he led Whitecaps FC Residency U-18 with 17 goals in 19 matches, Bustos tends not to make mistakes from prime scoring chances, and this was no exception. The Manitoban midfielder buried his opportunity and knotted the match at 1-1.
As quick as the ‘Caps were to respond to the Crossfire goal, they were even faster to add to their own. After some excellent work creating chaos in the Washington half, Cody Cook put Whitecaps FC up 2-1 in the 65th minute as he ran onto a loose ball and smashed it in to the goal from 12 yards out.
The second half, Meadley admits, wasn’t perfect, but he’s impressed with his squad’s ability to rally. “Both teams came out flying in the second half,” Meadley said. “It took a little while for us to get going but, after they got their first goal five or six minutes in, we stuck to our attack and we kept playing the ball, we kept pressing and we were rewarded with our two quality goals."
The rest of the second half saw chances traded in either direction, but nothing else got past either goalkeeper, and the final score read 2-1, giving the ‘Caps their first win on the season.
Overall, Meadley couldn’t be happier with his young squad’s performance. “Tonight’s game, we’re tremendously happy with our performance. Like we’ve been saying all season long, if we continue to play at a high level, like we did tonight, then the results will come. The boys got one they deserved tonight.”
51’ – WAS – Hamza Hadaddi
60' – VAN – Marco Bustos
65' – VAN – Cody Cook
Shots: Crossfire 9 – Vancouver 17
Saves: Crossfire 12 - Vancouver 6
Fouls: Crossfire 13 – Vancouver 11
Offsides: Crossfire 2 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Crossfire 9 – Vancouver 3
60’ - VAN - Harry Lakhan
79’ - WAS - Jeffrey Collings