Whitecaps U-23 turn frustration to a comeback win in PDL opener

Vancouver Whitecaps kick off their PDL campaign against Kitsap Pumas. Previously spread out around the lower mainland, Thunderbird Stadium at UBC will be the home ground for PDL games. Photo Andrew Bates/Little Rubber Pellets

Vancouver Whitecaps kick off their PDL campaign against Kitsap Pumas. Previously spread out around the lower mainland, Thunderbird Stadium at UBC will be the home ground for PDL games. Photo Andrew Bates/Little Rubber Pellets

It could have been a lousy way to start the season, but it turned around fast.

The Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 team started off their USL Premier Development League season against Kitsap Pumas with a 2-1 win Friday night at Thunderbird Stadium.

The league occupies a weird spot in the Whitecaps’ player development system. Players are often identified for loans to lower-division teams, NCAA programs or first-team spots already by the time they turn 19.

So the PDL is a place for Residency grads and other players who have promise but aren’t not ready to step right into the first team get games against good opposition. This year’s crop of 11 college players include UBC’s Gagandeep Dosanjh, UVic’s Cam Hundal and SFU’s Derrick Bassi. The team also has MLS players Simon Thomas, Adam Clement and Aminu Abdallah.

Thomas is a bit more of a known factor, starved for minutes due to being third on the depth chart behind both Brad Knighton and Joe Cannon. But Clement and Abdallah are more recent signings, with lots of hours in practice and less game experience.

The new crop of players did not, however, start their season off on the right foot. On six minutes, a ball bounced straight up out of a scramble in front of the Whitecaps goal. Kitsap forward Sebastiaan Jansen found it with his head to stab home and establish a lead.

The early deficit was especially painful for the ‘Caps, who had the greater share of chances in the first period. Forward Bobby Jhutty sent a wonderful free kick low on the right post and Dosanjh fired high right, both saved by Kitsap keeper Dustyn Brim.

The finest chance of the half belonged to Jhutty. He was wide-open on the left when he got his head on a cross around the 40th minute, but Brim somehow leapt across to claim it. Despite being up 8-4 in shots, the Whitecaps went into the half down a goal.

The early parts of the first half did not seem to improve. The emboldened Bremerton, Washington side pushed the Caps defence and goalkeeper Thomas, who earned his first two senior caps for Canada in January, keeping a 0-0 clean sheet against the US men’s national team.

But the Whitecaps were still generating chances, including an attempt around sixty minutes where Cam Hundal slapped a volley on goal only to be saved again by Brim.

It was Hundal who would equalize for the Caps on 69 minutes. Taking a pass from substitute Spencer DeBoice, he fired a right rocket of a shot from high on the left side of the penalty area that went across a diving Brim and beat him on the right side.

Three minutes later, the Whitecaps reversal was complete. A ‘Caps player was bundled over in the box, but play went on despite penalty calls and the ball fell to DeBoice, who smashed it into goal from 12 yards to put the ‘Caps up 2-1.

Kitsap did not go down easily, with forward Andrew Sterling hitting the crossbar on 81 minutes, but they did go down. They have started the season at the bottom of the PDL’s Northwest Division, having played in the only other game of the year so far, a 3-0 loss to the Victoria Highlanders.

The Whitecaps will see the Highlanders next week on Friday, the Salish Sea derby being this year’s principal decider for the supporter-purchased Juan de Fuca Plate.

It’s a bright start for a team that missed out on the playoffs by a point last year. Their strength was their quality rather than their chemistry, but the rest can come with time.

Stats after the jump.

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It’s Monday! Time for the Monday Review.

Christine Sinclair must have done this to Kaylyn Kyle like, eighty times in practice. Photo courtesy Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

Christine Sinclair must have done this to Kaylyn Kyle like, eighty times in practice. Photo courtesy Craig Mitchelldyer/Portland Thorns FC

It’s Monday! That mean’s it’s time for the Monday Review. What happened in soccer this week?


It was the historic start of the National Women’s Soccer League’s first season! (That actually started a week ago.) Portland Thorns FC defeated Seattle Reign FC 2-0 in their home opener Sunday. A posted attendance of 16,479 at Jeld-Wen eclipsed all of the games in the previous women’s pro league, WPS, as well as the crowds of all 9 MLS games except LA and New York.

The news will hearten women’s soccer fans, although certainly an MLS stadium in Portland with two of the best attacking players in the game got an attendance that teams like Chicago, satisfied with its 3,000-seating Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, aren’t trying to hit while the game is in its growth period.

But the good news is that the teams are fairly even on the field. Though Portland has heavy talent in Canadian talisman Christine Sinclair and goalkeeper Karina Leblanc as well as the USWNT’s Alex Morgan, the Thorns were bright in attack and okay in defense, but they need to figure out how to get the ball to their attacking pair. Just like Canada! Seattle sported the CANWNT’s Kaylyn Kyle and Emily Zurrer, as well as Welsh star Jessica Fishlock, who was keen to play antagonist to the Portland fans. Should be bright.

Thorns lead the table with 4 points and a 1-1-0 record. In the other NWSL game of the weekend, Canada’s Diane Matheson scored an 86th minute penalty kick to draw the Washington Spirit even 1-1 with the Western New York Flash.


Despite really really looking like they could pull out a win against Houston, Toronto conceded at 93:30 of a 94-minute match on one of those last gasp corner attempts. TFC had a man on the far post and a man on the near post, but nobody on Houston D-Mid Warren Crevalle, who stood right in front of GK John Bendik and flicked it backwards with a seal-poke of his forehead. It erased a lead the team had been carrying since a Jeremy Hall goal in the 58th minute for a 1-1 draw.

Elsewhere, Seattle got a 1-0 away win at Colorado, Portland drew 1-1 at San Jose, the Union beat United, LA Galaxy turned away Kansas City, Salt Lake defeated Chivas, Chicago got Columbus, and New York trounced New England 4-1 at home.

Montreal, sitting third in the East, didn’t play this weekend. TFC is sitting four points out in seventh, while Vancouver is seventh in the west, because oh yeah.


FC Edmonton, whom Vancouver will visit in the Voyageurs Cup on Wednesday, lost 2-0 to Minnesota United, struggling to find space despite having lots of possession. Former Whitecaps Wes Knight left the game with a serious foot injury in the 17th minute and they conceded a penalty in the 29th. It was a bad day for Colin Miller. The winless Eddies sit joint bottom with a point after three games.

CONCACAF Men’s Under-17 Championship

The agony. The ecstasy. Terrified high-schoolers playing away in Panama City. Already qualified for the U17 World Cup after pushing past Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Jamaica, the Canadian men’s U17s tried to push for gold but lost out to Panama in the semis. They beat Honduras on penalties in the bronze medal game, so they’ll go home happy. And they should! They got some good games against international opposition, and now they have a trip to the United Arab Emirates in October to look forward to. Hopefully nobody threw urine at them.


With five players away with the Canada U17 men’s team, the Whitecaps U18 residency team managed to beat San Juan SC 2-1 despite having to haul in some younger players. The U16s, however, had all their players hauled in by the U18s, and lost 1-0. With five games left each, the U18s and U16s sit first and sixth respectively in their West Conference standings.


The Pacific Coast Soccer League schedules are out! They’re, uh, all in Excel. Working on it. Sadly missing Kelowna club Okanagan Challenge FC after it closed its doors this winter, the men’s season will kick off next weekend with the Victoria Highlanders and Victoria United both hosting and conclude July 21st before the Challenge Cup on the 27th and 28th.

The Whitecaps’ women’s team (is the PCSL squad now the senior team? Oh, woe) will get the ball rolling for the women’s Premier division May 1st at SFU. It will conclude the same time.

BC Provincial Cup

Semifinals have been set for BC Soccer’s adult cup competition. On the men’s side, Surrey United Firefighters beat Estrella de Chile and will face the PCSL champion Vancouver Thunderbirds, UBC’s summer team, who offed VMSL champs Columbus FC 3-1. West Van FC and Cowichan won their quarterfinals, and will meet on the other side of the bracket.

On the women’s side, Surrey United and Castaways FC picked up wins, as did Prospect Lake SC and the NSGSC Renegades. All semifinals will take place next weekend.

Whitecaps U-23 have a mad dash down a hard road to the PDL playoffs

To make it to the PDL playoffs, Vancouver Whitecaps U-23 must win all their remaining games, including a home game against rivals Victoria in Richmond. (Photo BlueAnWhiteArmy/Flickr)

The Vancouver Whitecaps U-23s are on the outside looking in to the USL PDL playoffs, but a 4-0 victory against the North Sound SeaWolves was the first in a sequence of three games in six days they must win to have any chance at the post-season.

The Caps set out for revenge for a 3-1 loss to the SeaWolves in Edmonds, WA, and had the lions share of momentum throughout the game with 21 shots on goal. Cam Hundal and Bobby Jhutty scored, with Coulton Jackson notching a brace between 33 and 49 minutes as the goals all bunched up around half-time. Nolan Wirth, a callup from the Whitecaps U-16s, made five saves in a shutout to bundle away second-last-place North Sound in the first of three must-win games from the Caps.

The Whitecaps sit in fifth place, four points out of the last playoff spot in the Northwest Division, and they’ve got a game in hand on the fourth-placed Washington Crossfire. But a 3-3-1 June that included losses to the Crossfire, Portland Timbers U-23 and the SeaWolves has put them in a spot where they need to do three things to see playoffs:

  1. Win without their best players. The Whitecaps are playing without MLS first-team player Caleb Clarke, on a tryout in Germany, as well as starting goalkeeper Callum Irving, defender Daniel Stanese, midfielder Ben McKendry, and strikers Ben Fisk and Yassin Essa, who’ve been called up to the Canadian U-20 team. And with the U-18s, including backup GK Lucas Menz, eyeing USSDA Finals Week on the 16th, it’s an awful time to make a playoff push. Assistant coach Martin Nash suited up as an overage player the other day because they literally didn’t have enough bodies to fill the required bench spots.
    The Caps drooped to a goalless draw away to the Kitsap Pumas and a loss to the Crossfire that put them in this sorry mess in the first place, but responded nicely against North Sound. They’ve still got a 16-year-old in goal, though.
  2. Win three games in six days. Last night’s win in Swangard was just the first step. Tomorrow, the Whitecaps will play a Salish Sea derby against the Victoria Highlanders in Richmond, where they have a chance to lift the supporters-backed Juan de Fuca Plate trophy for PDL teams based in B.C. The final game in the swing is against the Fraser Valley Mariners, the other B.C. team in the division. The University of the Fraser Valley’s summer team has not fared well this year, recording 13 losses and a single draw. It’s lucky that all three teams are the bottom three in the league, but Victoria held Vancouver to a 1-1 draw in May, and the same result would sink them.
  3. Hope results go their way. If they can accomplish all that, the Whitecaps still need to rely on the Portland Timbers. Their U-23 squad beat the Crossfire 1-0 last night in Portland to seal their spot in the playoffs, and travel to Washington to play the reverse fixture Wednesday. If Vancouver take nine of nine points, a Portland win or draw would send them clear to the playoffs. A Crossfire win would end it for the Caps, so their results are in other hands. Nine points are absolutely necessary to top Washington: the PDL tiebreakers are head-to-head points (tied), wins (Crossfire have 8 to the Caps’ 6, so they need two to tie), and goal differences (heavily in Vancouver favour.)
  4. So if they can win three times in six games missing six starters, all they have to do is hope the Portland Timbers win when they’ve already qualified for the playoffs.

    But it’s possible.