RICHMOND, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 celebrated Canada Day in the only way they seem to know recently: by winning.
The ‘Caps earned their sixth straight victory in United Soccer Leagues (USL) Premier Development League (PDL) action on Tuesday afternoon at Minoru Oval Park, as they rolled to a 4-1 decision over their Northwest Division rivals Washington Crossfire.
Second-half substitute Cody Cook led the way for the Blue and White, netting a pair of goals to increase his team-leading tally to 10 on the season. Reynold Stewart and Marco Bustos also found the back of the net for Vancouver.
Bustos and fellow Residency midfielder Kianz Froese were both very involved early on – the two players combined for the first real chance of the match in the fifth minute. But a Crossfire defender slid to block Bustos’ attempt from inside the 18-yard box, keeping the score level.
Froese had a chance of his own in the 17th minute, as he made a nice run down the left flank, cut to the middle, before putting his shot wide of the right post.
The visiting Crossfire had their first opportunity in the 29th minute, when Hassani Stephenson headed a free kick just wide of the ‘Caps net.
Shortly later, Bustos drew first blood for Whitecaps FC U-23. After receiving a nice ball from Brett Levis down the right side, Bustos hammered a low shot into the left corner to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.
Washington equalized just before the break off another free kick. This time, ‘Caps goalkeeper William Diaz punched the ball out onto the waiting foot off striker Hamza Haddadi, who made no mistake and fired it into an empty cage.
With the score level, Whitecaps FC U-23 took over in the second half thanks largely to the contributions of their substitutes.
Substitute Niall Cousens made his presence felt immediately after coming on for Froese. And in the 70th minute, after Cousens had a crack at a Mitch Piraux corner in the air, Cook deftly picked up the ball inside the box and slotted it in to put the ‘Caps ahead 2-1.
Another substitute found the back of the net in the 77th minute – this time it was Stewart, who turned on his heel just outside the area and fired home his second goal of the season. First-team midfielder Bryce Alderson, who played the full 90 minutes in each of Vancouver’s last two PDL games, was awarded the assist on the goal.
Cook added a little insult to injury at the death. After Levis was tripped up in the Crossfire box, Cook converted the subsequent penalty to increase Vancouver’s lead to 4-1. And that’s how the match would end, as the final whistle sounded moments later.
Head coach Niall Thompson was particularly impressed with the play of his substitutes and, considering they scored three of his squad’s four goals on the day, it’s easy to see why.
“We said at halftime that our counter attack was taking too long, there were too many touches, and there wasn’t enough quality on our crosses,” Thompson told whitecapsfc.com after the match. “The subs that came in knew their roles, knew what we expected of them, and capitalized on their opportunities.”
36’ – VAN – Marco Bustos (Brett Levis)
43’ – WAS – Hamza Haddadi
70’ – VAN – Cody Cook
77’ – VAN – Reynold Stewart (Bryce Alderson)
90' + 4 – VAN – Cody Cook (penalty kick)
Shots: Vancouver 13 – Washington 6
Saves: Vancouver 2 – Washington 1
Fouls: Vancouver 9 – Washington 5
Offsides: Vancouver 3 – Washington 0
Corners: Vancouver 7 – Washington 4
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23
13.William Diaz; 16.Christian Dean, 3.Sam Adekugbe (30.Adam Jones 61’), 26.Jackson Farmer, 2.Colton O’Neill; 25.Bryce Alderson; 14.Brett Levis, 28.Marlon Ramirez (24.Cody Cook 57’), 17.Mitch Piraux (11.Jordan Haynes 81’); 10.Marco Bustos (23.Reynold Stewart 61’), 19.Kianz Froese (9.Niall Cousens 61’)
22.Raegyn Hall, 6.Jordian Farahani
1.Mike Arguello; 10.Junior Sanchez, 7.Nick James, 2.Parker Holland, 3.Sean Russell; 23.Austin Allison (11.Cesar Rocha 45’), 20.Lars Ludwigs (19.Adan Martinez 82’), 13.Hassani Stephenson, 28.Matt Poplawski (22.Julian White 36’) (17. Ibra Drame 74’); 16.James Huffer, 9.Hamza Haddadi (21. Liam Kelly 69’)