PORTLAND, OREGON – Darren Mattocks scored two first-half goals for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 3-2 preseason win over Norwegian side Stabæk Fotball Wednesday night at Providence Park.
After Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Mezquida opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Mattocks found the back of the net from the penalty spot and then again from open play just before halftime to give the Blue and White a 3-0 lead heading into the break. Mattocks and Mezquida’s goals were their firsts of the preseason, bringing the team’s total to 10 different goalscorers.
Stabæk made a game of it in the second half with a pair of goals, including a penalty of their own, but the ‘Caps held on to claim their second straight victory in the Simple Invitational.
The win, combined with Portland's 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire, means Vancouver will finish as the top team in the Simple Invitational (formerly the Rose City Invitational) for the second straight year.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made a full lineup change after opening the Simple Invitational with a 1-0 win over Portland Timbers on Sunday. As he did on Saturday in a closed-door friendly against Timbers 2, Robinson once again fielded a younger group made up entirely of outfield players 24 years old or younger.
Stabæk, who finished ninth out of 16 teams last season in the Norwegian Premier League, also fielded a young side – with some MLS experience. Former Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake midfielder Cole Grossman, as well as former Seattle Sounders FC and DC United forward David Estrada, both featured in Bob Bradley’s starting lineup.
And the North American duo nearly combined to open the scoring. In the 10th minute, Grossman found some space down the left side before playing in a ball to Estrada at the back post, but fullback Sam Adekugbe saved the day with a sliding clearance.
Stabæek threatened in the early stages, but it was the ‘Caps that struck first.
In the 13th minute, Marco Bustos chipped in a perfect ball to Mezquida, who finished on a half volley from just outside the 18-yard-box to put Whitecaps FC ahead 1-0.
The early goal seemed to inject some life into Robinson’s side.
Hometown boy Erik Hurtado nearly doubled Vancouver’s advantage in the 21st minute, cutting into the middle before blasting a 25-yard strike that goalkeeper Mande Sayouba tipped just over the goal.
On the ensuing corner, the ‘Caps were awarded a penalty after centre back Diego Rodriguez was hauled down in the box. And Mattocks slotted it into the left corner, increasing Vancouver’s lead to 2-0.
From there, it was all Stabæk for the rest of the half. The Norwegian side had Vancouver hemmed in their own half and created some quality chances, including a pair of opportunities from striker Luc Kassi inside the box. But thanks to some strong goalkeeping from Paolo Tornaghi, who made five saves on the night, the Blue and White managed to keep them off the scoresheet.
And just before halftime, the ‘Caps got on the scoresheet again against the run of play.
In the build-up, Mezquida played a diagonal ball over the top to Ben McKendry, who released Mattocks into the box with a clever throughball. And the Jamaican striker made no mistake, adding his second goal of the game with a calm side-footed finish.
Mattocks had a few opportunities to complete his hat-trick early in the second half, including a 54th minute half-volley that forced substitute keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu into making a diving save, but was unable to do so.
And it nearly proved costly.
Anders Trondsen got Stabæk on the board with a 68th-minute penalty – Rodriguez was called for the penalty after drawing one in the first half. And then Stabæk added their second in the 81st minute when a low cross directed off Whitecaps FC trialist Harold Gomez into the back of the net for an own goal.
But Whitecaps FC held on in the end for their second win of the Simple Invitational and fourth win of the preseason. The ‘Caps will play their final match of the preseason on Saturday against Eastern Conference side Chicago Fire.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. PT at Providence Park – the match will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com and air on TSN 1410 radio.
13' - VAN - Nicolas Mezquida (Marco Bustos)
23' - VAN - Darren Mattocks (penalty kick)
44' - VAN - Darren Mattocks (Ben McKendry)
68' - STA - Andres Trondsen (penalty kick)
81' - VAN - Harold Gomez (own goal)
Shots: Stabæk 15 - Vancouver 10
Shots on Goal: Stabæk 6 - Vancouver 7
Saves: Stabæk 4 - Vancouver 5
Fouls: Stabæk 9 - Vancouver 16
Offsides: Stabæk 1 - Vancouver 4
Corners: Stabæk 10 - Vancouver 4
24' - VAN - Erik Hurtado
62' - STA - Luc Kassi
70' - VAN - Ethen Sampson
1.Mande Sayouba (22.Gurpeet Singh Sandhu 45'); 3.Morten Skjonsberg (2.Cornelius Benscik 45'), 15.Ville Jalasto (5.Andreas Hanche-Olsen 79'), 4.Nicolai Naess, 25.Birger Solberrg Meling (21.Daniel Granli 45'); 28.Luc Kassi, 14.Cole Grossman, 81.Anders Trondsen (10.Emil Dahle 79'); 30.David Estrada (13.Erik Haugstad 68'), 9.Giorgi Gorozia (16.Thor Lange 45'), 7.Kamal Issah (8.Emil Ekblom 45')
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 27.Ethen Sampson (41.Jackson Farmer^ 84'), 22.Christian Dean, 18.Diego Rodriguez (26.Tim Parker 68'), 3.Sam Adekugbe (35.Harold Gomez* 80') ; 28.Gershon Koffie (37.Mitch Piraux^ 80'), 30.Ben McKendry (38.Kianz Froese 68'); 19.Erik Hurtado (42.Ruben Anchico* 80'), 9.Nicolas Mezquida, 32.Marco Bustos (8.Robert Earnshaw* 68'); 11.Darren Mattocks (34.Caleb Clarke 84')
^Whitecaps FC 2 player
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