VANCOUVER, BC – It could not have been scripted any better.
Whitecaps FC 2 (2W-4L-3D) notched another milestone in their inaugural season, sharing their first home victory with their fans in another fun-filled Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Stadium.
It was fitting that hometown players Caleb Clarke (Richmond, BC) and Ben McKendry (Vancouver, BC) scored as WFC2 defeated Real Monarchs SLC (1W-6L-3D), 2-1 in entertaining fashion in front of a crowd of loyal supporters and their families out to enjoy soccer in the sun.
The live band had barely put their guitars down when Monarchs midfielder Lucas Baldin teed off for a long-distance strike from the kickoff. ‘Caps goalkeeper Spencer Richey (Seattle, WA) was up to the task, gamely deflecting the early chance as the tone was set for the highly entertaining match.
After a scrappy back-and-forth start, the ‘Caps got on the board on the 21st minute with a surgical build-up on the right flank. Right back Chris Serban (Calgary, AB) and midfielder Tyler Rosenlund (Port Coquitlam, BC) combined to set up Clarke for a high deflected shot that was placed perfectly beyond the reach of Monarchs goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez. Rosenlund now leads the ‘Caps with three assists this season.
Sensing that the visiting Monarchs were on their heels, first-team centre back Diego Rodriguez gave Vancouver fans a glimpse of what they could expect from him this year. Rosenlund found the 24-year old Uruguayan off a corner kick, but the Rodriguez header was just inches wide of the target. It was Rodriguez’s first time on the pitch after sustaining a quad injury in the MLS squad’s match versus Columbus Crew SC at BC Place on April 8.
WFC2 kept pressing and their aggressive play was rewarded again in the 33rd minute. Midfielder Victor Blasco controlled a rainbow diagonal throughball on the right side while in full stride before setting up the trailing McKendry to increase the ‘Caps lead to 2-0.
The Monarchs threatened right before halftime but defender Danilo Acosta’s brilliant individual effort bounced off the bottom of the crossbar and out of the danger zone for the ‘Caps.
After a halftime that had fans battling it out in bubble soccer on the Thunderbird pitch, the Blue and White resumed with their attack. In the 47th minute, McKendry pounced on a set-up from Brett Levis (Saskatoon, SK) for a half-volley, but the midfielder’s attempt bounced high of the goal.
The tension thickened in the 80th minute when defender Jordan Haynes (Peterborough, ON) was called for a foul inside the box as Monarchs midfielder Sebastian Saucedo was on the attack. Lucas Baldin took the penalty kick for the visitors and calmly put the ball in the bottom right corner to cut the ‘Caps lead in half.
However, it was too little, too late for the Monarchs as WFC2 would not be denied their second win of the season.
Head coach Alan Koch fielded 10 Canadians in the match, including seven in the starting lineup.
Whitecaps FC 2 are back at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday, May 31 when they host former ‘Caps MLS striker Long Tan and Arizona United SC.