PORTLAND, OR – Vancouver Whitecaps FC suffered their first loss of the preseason on Sunday afternoon, falling 3-2 to Chicago Fire in their 2016 Simple Invitational opener at Providence Park.
The 'Caps took a 2-1 lead into the break thanks to a Fire own goal and Cristian Techera’s first goal of the preseason, but Chicago converted two penalties in the second half to seal the victory.
Both teams will play two more matches as part of the Simple Invitational – Portland’s annual preseason tournament – before opening the regular season on March 6.
The ‘Caps are now 3W-1L-0D in the preseason.
As expected, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson tinkered a bit with his lineup on Sunday.
David Ousted got the nod in goal, fresh off his multi-year contract extension. In front of him, Kendall Waston and Christian Dean partnered in the centre of defence and they were flanked by Canadian international fullbacks Fraser Aird and Sam Adekugbe.
Things were a little more fluid in midfield.
Robinson started midfielders Deybi Flores and Pedro Morales in front of the backline, but Morales actually ended up playing a little further up the pitch alongside Christian Bolaños to form more of a 4-1-4-1. Meanwhile, Techera and Kekuta Manneh occupied the wings, while Octavio Rivero was the lone striker.
The 'Caps looked a little sloppy in the early going – and Chicago made them pay.
In the fifth minute, Fire trialist John Goossens walked into the box after a ‘Caps giveaway and opened the scoring with an uncontested strike from the penalty marker. Ousted didn’t have much of a chance.
Chicago didn’t stop there.
They came close again in the 13th minute, when trialist Arturo Alvarez fired an off-balance attempt over the goal from six yards, and in the 17th minute when Gilberto got in behind and forced Ousted into a big save off a strike from just inside the box.
From there, Vancouver slowly began to take control.
And in the 24th minute, they brought the game level after a well-placed Aird cross deflected off Bolaños and Fire defender Johan Kappelhof into the back of the net.
The 'Caps took the lead in the 38th minute off another cross.
This time, Aird’s Canadian international teammate Adekugbe whipped one in to Techera, who tapped it home at the back post.
Both teams had late chances – Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson dove to stop a Morales free kick in first-half stoppage time – but Whitecaps FC took a 2-1 lead into the break after an entertaining 45 minutes.
The lead didn’t last long, though, as Gilberto equalized for Chicago with a 51st-minute penalty after Waston was whistled for a foul in the box. Waston conceded a second penalty in the 81st minute, which substitute Kennedy Igboananike converted to give the Fire a 3-2 lead.
And despite some last pressure from Vancouver, that’s how this one would end.
Sunday’s match fell exactly two weeks ahead of Whitecaps FC’s season opener against Montreal Impact. The ‘Caps have two more preseason matches to go, Wednesday vs. defending MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers and Saturday vs. NASL side Minnesota United FC (both live on whitecapsfc.com and TSN 1040 radio), before opening the 2016 MLS regular season on Sunday, March 6 at BC Place.
Single match tickets are on sale now.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Midfielder Deybi Flores will leave Portland on Monday to join the Honduran U-23 national team for a friendly against Colombia’s U-23 side. The 19-year-old will miss Wednesday’s match vs. Portland before re-joining the team later in the week.
- Striker/winger Erik Hurtado (knee) and midfielder Russell Teibert (calf) are both day-to-day, while striker Masato Kudo, who is out with a non-soccer related medical condition, is set to join the team on Wednesday.
- Midfielder Matias Laba and striker Darren Mattocks are both away with their respective partners for the birth of their first children.
5’ – CHI – John Goossens
24’ – VAN – Johan Kappelhof (own goal)
38’ – VAN – Cristian Techera (Sam Adekugbe, Kekuta Manneh)
51’ – CHI – Gilberto (penalty kick)
81’ – CHI – Kennedy Igboananike (penalty kick)
Shots: Chicago 14 – Vancouver 4
Shots on Goal: Chicago 7 – Vancouver 4
Saves: Chicago 2 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Chicago 17 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: Chicago 3 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Chicago 5 – Vancouver 4
33’ – VAN – Deybi Flores
36’ – CHI – Gilberto
78’ – VAN – Kendall Waston
86’ – CHI – Collin Fernandez
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 8.Fraser Aird, 4.Kendall Waston, 22.Christian Dean, 3.Sam Adekugbe; 20.Deybi Flores, 77.Pedro Morales © (38.Kianz Froese 70’); 13.Cristian Techera (27.Blas Pérez 76’), 7.Christian Bolaños, 23.Kekuta Manneh (32.Marco Bustos 79’); 29.Octavio Rivero
25.Sean Johnson (28.Matt Lampson^ 79’); 30.Michael Harrington, 25.Johan Kappelhof, 28.Joao Meira (16.Jonathan Campbell 70’), 21.Brandon Vincent; 2.Matt Polster, 30.Razvan Cocis © (26.Michael Stephens 79’), 12.Arturo Alvarez^ (17.Collin Fernandez 79’), 7.John Goossens^ (21.Nick LaBrocca 70’), 2.Joey Calistri; 29.Gilberto (77.Kennedy Igboananike 79’)