WESTFIELD, IN – The chase for a championship is on, as Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency kicked off their 2014 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs with a spirited contest against Solar Chelsea SC. The ‘Caps battled hard and came away with a 2-2 draw in their opening match at Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield, Indiana.
For Whitecaps FC, their greatest obstacle on the day wasn’t always the opposing team, but the weather. With temperatures reaching higher than 30 degrees celsius, coupled with 66% humidity, the conditions on the pitch made for difficult circumstance for the Vancouver club against their Dallas, Texas-based counterparts.
With fresh legs to start the match, the ‘Caps drew first blood around the 15-minute mark. Off of a second ball from a set piece from the right flank, striker Terran Campbell emerged from a group of players at the left post to head the ball past the Solar Chelsea goalkeeper.
Vancouver’s second tally was generated through a terrific effort by regular season leading scorer Marco Bustos. The midfield maestro raced down the side of the pitch and delivered a fantastic ball to the back post where fellow Winnipeg native Ali Musse made no mistake from inside the box with a header to put the ‘Caps up 2-0 at 28 minutes.
Both sides had several chances to close out the half. However, neither side could capitalize as the 'Caps went into the break with a 2-0 advantage.
Despite the lead, assistant coach Steve Meadley could see that that the heat was taking a toll.
“The boys were fatigued," Meadley told whitecapsfc.com. "It’s very hot and humid here, and by the end of the half, it was starting to show. We had players cramping all over the place.”
Coming out of halftime, the ‘Caps had another golden opportunity to improve the score in their favour. However, a shot from the Blue and White rang off of the crossbar, and Solar Chelsea stormed back on the counterattack. By the end of his run, Chelsea striker Toryima Asom made his way into the box and put a nice ball past Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci to cut the lead to one.
Asom would add one more goal to equalize for Solar Chelsea SC as the half progressed before the heat slowed the play. In the end, the match ended with the two sides deadlocked at 2-2.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s match against Georgia United, Meadley is optimistic about his team’s chances to respond.
“Against Georgia, we feel that with one more day of the heat here, we’ll be acclimatized much better,” Meadley said. “We know what to expect now, we’ll play our way, we’ll look to keep the ball and play the way we do every week and hopefully we can get a better result tomorrow.”
The result leaves the 'Caps in second place after the first day of action, with Bethesda-Olney topping Georgia United 6-0 in the other match. Only the first place team in each group advances to the quarterfinals.