Development Squad vs. Brighton
Photo Credit: Paul Hazlewood / Brighton & Hove Albion FC

Development Squad falls to Brighton & Hove Albion in lively and entertaining match

LANCING, ENGLAND – The Whitecaps FC Development Squad played the second match of their England trip on Friday, falling 2-1 versus the host Brighton & Hove Albion U-23 team in a lively and entertaining match at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

"It was an excellent match of football all around from both sides, a real joy to watch," noted head coach Nick Dasovic. "The first half was the best half of football that we have played so far. We were fluid in our possession and created a number of quality scoring chances."

The ‘Caps knew they were in for a stiff test, facing one of the top Premier League 2 sides in England this year, as the Seagulls currently sit second place in their chase for the title.

Dasovic made three changes to the starting lineup from the previous match versus AFC Bournemouth on Tuesday. Gabriel Escobar stepped in for Jalen Watson at left back, Damiano Pecile came on for David Norman in central midfield, and Nicholas Fussell started in place of Kamron Habibullah on the front line. Norman was left out of the lineup after suffering an injury in the opening match against Bournemouth. In total, seven teenagers started the match, with 17-year-old Simon Colyn and 16-year-old Pecile coming in as the youngest.

The first half was played at a blistering pace, with numerous chances at both ends. Theo Bair had a pair of good shots saved, while Georges Mukumbilwa hit the post on 11 minutes.

On the other side, Thomas Hasal came up with huge first half saves against Republic of Ireland U-19 international striker Aaron Connolly and former England U-19 international midfielder Max Sanders.

With less than 10 minutes before halftime, a mistake at the back from the ‘Caps led to a breakaway for Connolly as he slipped by Hasal and finished to make it 1-0.

Hasal came up with a few more excellent saves for the ‘Caps in the second half. However on 73 minutes, after another fine save, he could not keep out the second chance from Serbian U-19 international striker Bojan Radulovic as Brighton scored their second.

But the 'Caps would not quit. In the 89th minute, a free kick from substitute Emiliano Brienza was met with a diving header from centre back Brendan McDonough to cut the deficit in half.

Though an equalizer would not come, the match was an effort that Dasovic's young side could be proud of.

"We started getting a bit of tired legs in the second half and made some substitutions, but the boys kept fighting hard," added Dasovic. "All in all, the group continues feeling better and better about themselves, and we continue to improve every week. Brighton have been unbelievable hosts, so we thank them for having us here at their facilities and wish them the very best for the remainder of their season."

The last match of the trip for the ‘Caps comes on Tuesday as they face Merstham FC at the Specsavers Stadium.
Thomas Hasal*; T-Boy Fayia+, Brendan McDonough*, Connor Guilherme, Gabriel Escobar+ (Jalen Watson+ 14’, Chance Carter 60’); Damiano Pecile (Kamron Habibullah 71’), Patrick Metcalfe, Simon Colyn*; Nicholas Fussell (Emiliano Brienza 60’), Theo Bair* (Brandon Cambridge 84'), Georges Mukumbilwa
* MLS roster
+ Academy call-up
More photos below ...