VANCOUVER, BC – Robert Earnshaw sure knows how to make a debut.
After scoring in his first-team debut last month, the veteran striker did the same for Whitecaps FC 2 (1W-3L-2D) on Sunday afternoon in an entertaining 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC 2 (3W-2L-1D).
DOWNLOAD: Highlights and images from the match
Over 2,000 boisterous fans descended upon UBC Thunderbird Stadium to take in the second meeting of the season between the Cascadia rivals. It was a much-improved effort from the Blue and White, who fell 4-0 to S2 in their season opener.
Earnshaw was one of seven first-team players in WFC2’s starting lineup on Sunday. Like Earnshaw, 18-year-old midfielder Deybi Flores made his first appearance for the United Soccer League outfit.
Six Canadians also started for WFC2 head coach Alan Koch, including five who came through the club’s Residency program.
There was no shortage of action in this one.
After a somewhat tentative start, things opened up around the 15-minute mark after an S2 goal was called back due to offside. Shortly later, WFC2 went back the other way and scored the game’s opening goal when Earnshaw alertly picked off an ill-advised back pass and tipped it into the back of the net.
WFC2 nearly made it 2-0 just a minute later, when the always dangerous Brett Levis blasted a long-distance strike off the crossbar. The baby ‘Caps were starting to come on, but S2 managed to quickly equalize against the run of play.
In the 24th minute, defender Nick Miele tapped in a flicked-on corner to bring the game level. Levis had another late opportunity, but the Cascadia rivals entered the break knotted at one after an evenly played and entertaining opening 45 minutes.
S2’s Damion Lowe had an early chance in the second half, but WFC2 very much looked the livelier side as they pushed forward in search of an equalizer. Kianz Froese nearly put WFC2 ahead in the 63rd minute, when he danced around a pair of defenders near the touchline before seeing his left-footed attempt blocked by an S2 defender on the goalline.
The ‘Caps looked in control, but S2 also had their opportunities on the counter. In the 68th minute, Darwin Jones got in behind but couldn’t beat goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. He had another chance just a few minutes later, this time rounding the onrushing Tornaghi before sailing his strike well wide.
Koch’s side continued to push forward in the dying stages, but were forced to settle for their second straight 1-1 draw. Next up for WFC2 is a West Coast clash with fellow MLS-affiliated side LA Galaxy II next Sunday, May 3 in Carson, California. Watch the match live on whitecapsfc2.com at 5 p.m. PT.