WESTFIELD, IN – Tuesday was a big day for Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency teams in their quest for glory at the 2014 United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) playoffs, as both teams secured important wins.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency earned their first victory of the 2014 USSDA playoffs on Tuesday morning in a thrilling contest with Georgia United U-18. The ‘Caps were dominant en route to a 4-0 win over their Group F rivals, and announced their presence as a real contender as the tournament progresses.
The ‘Caps opened the scoring in the 19th minute. After a Froese corner was blocked, midfielder Mitch Piraux delivered a great cross to Winnipeg native Bustos, who made no mistake to put Vancouver up 1-0.
Around the 30-minute mark, Bustos drew a free kick as he was pulled down just outside the 18-yard box and, given the prime scoring opportunity, Whitecaps FC didn’t waste much time extending their lead to 2-0. This time, it was Froese getting in on the action, as his free kick was a perfectly placed curler that found its way around the Georgia United wall past the keeper, just inside the far post.
The two sides went into the break with that same score, and played each other well for much of the second half. Though the ‘Caps consistently pressured their opponent from Marrieta, Georgia, they couldn’t break through for the match-sealing third goal until the 80th minute.
Froese and Bustos joined forces to create another opportunity, as a nice combination between the two midfielders left Bustos in prime scoring location inside the Georgia United 18-yard box. The Blue and White’s leading scorer was subsequently pulled down and awarded a penalty kick. Bustos stepped up and made no mistake, firing a bullet past Georgia’s keeper to make the score 3-0.
James closed out the scoring five minutes later, as Ali Musse sent in a solid cross that James had no trouble finishing.
Head coach Niall Thompson was thrilled with his team’s performance in the convincing win.
“I thought we played really well, especially coming out of the last result,” Thompson told whitecapsfc.com after the match. “We lacked a little concentration in the last game for a small stint, but we re-focused today, and I thought we played extremely well.”
In the other group F matchup, Bethesda-Olney U-18 scored a 4-2 victory over Solar Chelsea SC U-18. Here are the group standings going into the third and final matchup for each side.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a showdown with Bethesda-Olney to determine who will move on to the knockout stages of the playoffs. With Bethesda-Olney’s 2W-0L-0D record through the group stage thus far, the ‘Caps will have to win outright in order to advance. Fortunately for Thompson and his squad, this matchup is one they’ve been looking forward to.
“This is the one we wanted. It’s a great showdown for us, to advance, and this is what it’s all about,” Thompson said. “The squad’s really excited, and we’re really confident going into this game. We’ve got our legs going now, and there should be no excuses. We’re looking to get the result, and play our style of football.”
The decisive match of Group F is scheduled for Thursday, June 26 at Grand Sports Athletic Park in Westfield. Kickoff is set for 7:00 a.m. PT.
Victoria-born striker Dario Zanatta picked up both of Vancouver’s goals in the victory.
The first half was mostly devoid of dangerous offensive chances on either end, as the defenders for both clubs played a terrific 40 minutes. Match Fit Academy’s defence was set deep in their own end and did a nice job of preventing Vancouver from getting too many quality opportunities in the first half. However, the ‘Caps had a dominant half in terms of possession. They dictated the pace at both ends
The match was delayed for just over an hour during the break, as a tornado touched down approximately 40 minutes away from the pitch. However, nothing more came of the potentially dangerous situation, and the game resumed without incident.
The second half seemed to bring a new sense of life to the Blue and White, and right away, their chances seemed to have more of a dangerous feel to them. They adjusted to Match Fit's suffocating style of defence and quickly found ways to beat them with speed and crisp passing.
Vancouver’s work finally paid off in the 58th minute, as midfielder Francesco Saporito had a great run from the middle third of the field. The Edmonton native beat three Match Fit defenders and forced his way into the box, where he was hacked from behind and taken down. On the ensuing penalty kick, Zanatta drilled a shot past the Match Fit goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
Whitecaps FC extended their lead at the 75-minute mark, and it was Zanatta, who scored 17 goals in 21 matches during the regular season, doing the damage once again.
After Daniel Sagno fed him a nice ball at the top of the 18, Zanatta spun one way, then reversed field, shook his defender, and raced around to the edge of the six-yard box. From there, it was an easy finish, as the striker deposited the ball to the far post, and put the ‘Caps up 2-0.
Whitecaps FC U-16 head coach Rich Fagan was impressed with the level of resiliency his squad showed on the day.
“I’m really pleased that we were able to start the playoffs with a result," Fagan told whitecapsfc.com. "If they weren’t consistent, if they hadn’t stuck to the plan, had they not perservered with the way that Match Fit defended us in the first half, then we wouldn’t have gotten the performance we did.”
In other Group C action on Tuesday, Weston FC topped Houston Dynamo 4-2. The standings after both matchups is as follows:
Next up for Whitecaps FC is an MLS showdown with Houston Dynamo. Coming off that loss to Weston FC, Dynamo are going to be desperate for a victory in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. On the other hand, a win for Whitecaps FC will guarantee that Vancouver can control its own destiny when it comes to advancing to the knockout stages.
However, Fagan isn’t allowing himself, or his squad, to get ahead of themselves. Their focus is solely on Houston, and there’s plenty of excitement for that match.
“Being it’s an MLS club, there’s always a little bit more in it for us," Fagan said. “They’re clever, they’ve been here before, they’re a crafty team, and they’ll definitely keep us on our toes.”