HONOLULU, HAWAII – A 90th-minute Cristian Techera penalty kick carried Vancouver Whitecaps FC to a 1-0 win over Japanese club Iwaki FC on Thursday in their opening match of the Pacific Rim Cup.
The Uruguayan finished with a cheeky chip from the spot after Kei Kamara drew a late penalty, extending Vancouver’s preseason record to 2W-0L-0D after a 4-0 win over Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in Tuesday’s pre-tournament friendly.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson once again started a different XI for each half on Thursday. His starters included striker Anthony Blondell and Canadian centre back Doneil Henry, who were both making their first appearances in a ‘Caps uniform.
Henry, who joined Vancouver in December from English Premier League side West Ham United, was making his first appearance in 15 months after being out with a knee injury.
The Brampton, Ontario native was very involved in the first 45 minutes, going in on a number of tackles and clearing everything out of the air along with centre back partner Kendall Waston. The highlight of the first half, however, was a fine stop from Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic on a 30-yard free kick from Keisuke Onose.
In the second half, Alphonso Davies came on and gave Iwaki all sorts of problems with his pace and athleticism down the left. Both teams also hit the woodwork in the second half.
Tomoki Yoshida nearly scored a worldy in the 55th minute with a flick and volley off the far post and Kamara powered a Techera free kick off the bar in the 85th minute before Vancouver eventually bagged a late winner.
The ‘Caps will now face either Columbus Crew SC or Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo in the tournament final on Saturday night at 9 p.m. PT (7 p.m. local).
Whitecaps FC kick off the 2018 MLS regular season on Sunday, March 4 against Montreal Impact at BC Place.