VALE OF GLAMORGAN, WALES – A “mix and match” Vancouver Whitecaps FC side fell 1-0 to Cardiff City FC's U-23s on Friday morning in their first preseason match of 2017.
Cardiff trialist Sobwale scored the game’s only goal in the 48th minute, capitalizing on a Whitecaps FC turnover before lobbing one in from 20 yards. The closed-door friendly was played over three 30-minute periods, with most Whitecaps FC players getting about 45 minutes under their belt.
“It was 45 minutes of fitness within a game scenario,” Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. “That was the positive. And there was lots of good little linkup plays, which we’ve worked on in the first few days of training. We’re three days of training in, we’ve already played 45 minutes, we looked to a decent level, but it’s still building stage.”
Robinson fielded a starting lineup composed of 10 returning players on Friday, with goalkeeper David Ousted getting the nod between the sticks.
In front of him, rookie right back Jakob Nerwinski, centre backs Tim Parker and Christian Dean, and left back Jordan Harvey formed an all-American back line. Andrew Jacobson and Matias Laba partnered in midfield, Alphonso Davies and Marcel de Jong occupied the wings, and Kekuta Manneh played centrally underneath striker Erik Hurtado.
Notably, it was the first Whitecaps FC match experience for Nerwinski, one of five MLS SuperDraft selections in Robinson’s starting XI, and a return to action for Dean and Manneh, who both missed significant time due to injury in 2016. Nerwinski, in fact, was the only Whitecaps FC player to go 90 minutes, with Robinson making a number of subs throughout the match.
"He did well," Robinson said of Nerwinski. "I've got no concerns with him playing 90 minutes. Sheanon has a small injury and he's trying to get himself up to speed. Jake's fit because he played three games in five days at the combine. No problem at all. He should be proud of his first 90 minutes."
The reason Whitecaps FC came to the United Kingdom for their preseason this year was to play competitive matches against players already in midseason form.
And that’s exactly what they got.
“The majority of guys probably thought it might be like that, but didn’t exactly expect the physicality of it, tackles flying in the first five minutes,” Robinson said. “When that happens, you have to move the ball quick, you have to play quick, you have to play sharp, and you have to put the work in. My boys certainly did that today. It was a great eye-opener for them, but it was exactly what we need.”
The ‘Caps certainly created some quality chances on a chilly morning at the Cardiff City Training Complex. They came close in the second minute, in fact, with Dean heading a de Jong free kick just wide of the near post. Nerwinski also had a chance to open the scoring in the 33rd minute, seeing his strike parried away from close range after a nice one-two with Davies down the right.
Whitecaps FC, who made seven changes at the 45-minute mark and a few more following the second period, concluded the match with four Residency graduates in midfield: Marco Bustos, Ben Mckendry, and WFC2 duo Thomas Gardner and David Norman Jr.
And, in Robinson's words, they played some "excellent stuff."
"I think the young boys stepping into an environment like this, you're always wary about what to expect," he said. "Dave Norman and Tommy Gardner certainly got right fired in. They were playing against some very good players, some players who play first-team football, so it was a good start for them."
Bustos and McKendry also looked lively fresh off their stint with the Canadian senior men's national team. Bustos, in fact, nearly set up a 'Caps equalizer, springing Kyle Greig on a partial breakaway in the 89th minute. The WFC2 graduate fired a low strike across the face of goal but Cardiff’s keeper made a fingertip save to preserve the victory.
Whitecaps FC continue their UK preseason tour on Monday against League One outfit Oxford United FC (5 a.m. PT, Dragon Park), before facing Championship side Bristol City FC on Thursday, February 2 to conclude the trip. After a short stay in Vancouver, the ‘Caps will then travel to Portland for the annual Timbers Preseason Tournament as they continue to build-up towards the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals vs. New York Red Bulls.
NEWS AND NOTES:
- Ousted and fellow goalkeepers Paolo Tornaghi and Spencer Richey each played one 30-minute period during Friday’s match.
- Robinson said he’s hopeful that recently acquired attacking midfielder/forward Yordy Reyna will join the team in Wales next week. “He’s got his UK visa cleared so provided it arrives in Peru today, he will be on a flight and get here ASAP. He’s ready, he’s fit, and we’re excited to have him.”
- The group of players who did not feature on Friday, some of whom were dealing with minor knocks, could play as early as Monday. That includes the likes of Kendall Waston, Christian Bolaños, Russell Teibert, Giles Barnes, and Cristian Techera. “They’re doing extra work on the side because we don’t want to put them at risk of injury but they’ll hopefully be ready by Monday or Thursday,” Robinson said.
- Camp invitees Daniel Lovitz and Ross Jenkins both got 45 minutes for the ‘Caps on Friday. On former Rangers midfielder David Templeton, who is also in camp, Robinson said: “He’s just come in to have a little bit of rehab. There was nothing in it other than I know him, he wanted to come and see if he can get back up to speed. He’s been out of the game a long time, 18 months, so it’s just us helping him out a little bit.”
48' - CCFC - Sobwale
Shots: Cardiff 6 – Vancouver 7
Shots on Goal: Cardiff 4 – Vancouver 5
Saves: Cardiff 5 – Vancouver 3
Fouls: Cardiff 6 – Vancouver 8
Offsides: Cardiff 0 – Vancouver 1
Corners: Cardiff 7 – Vancouver 4
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted (70.Paolo Tornaghi 30', 18.Spencer Richey 60'); 28.Jakob Nerwinski*, 26.Tim Parker (14.Cole Seiler 60'), 22.Christian Dean (33.Francis de Vries* 60'), 2.Jordan Harvey (35.Daniel Lovitz~ 46'); 8.Andrew Jacobson (42.David Norman Jr.^ 46'), 15.Matias Laba (27.Ross Jenkins~ 46'); 67.Alphonso Davies (32.Marco Bustos 46'), 23.Kekuta Manneh (30.Ben McKendry 46'), 17.Marcel de Jong (64.Thomas Gardner^ 46'); 19.Erik Hurtado (47.Kyle Greig 46')
^ Member of WFC2
* Unsigned MLS SuperDraft selection
~ Unsigned camp invitee