MLS vs. CIS
This afternoon at a very chilly Centennial Stadium on the University of Victoria campus I, along with 2830 other spectators, had the opportunity to get a good look at a mixed Vancouver Whitecaps squad of some starters and several prospects play the current Canadian university champions from UVic.
This match has been well publicized as the first ever encounter between an MLS club and a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) side.
As such, the game presented a difficult proposition for the ‘Caps.
Although the starting line-up for Vancouver was a mixed bag, the expectation was that the MLS side would easily handle the amateur boys from UVic.
At the opening whistle, only Jordan Harvey at left back, along with midfielders Davide Chiumiento, Gershon Koffie, and Jun Marques Davidson are projected to be regular starters in the coming season. Omar Salgado and Darren Mattocks also kicked off the game for the Whitecaps at forward, along with recent goalkeeper acquisition Brad Knighton.
The University of Victoria countered with most of their starters from their CIS championship final.
The game started slowly but then a mistake by the UVic fullback on a quick turn inside the 18 yard box by Koffie earned Vancouver a penalty kick.
The initial shot by Chiumiento to the bottom left was poorly struck, clanging off the base of the post.
However, a fortuitous call by the referee indicated encroachment by a defender on the shot and Chiumiento roofed the penalty on the second attempt.
Throughout the rest of the first half, the Whitecaps dominated possession but struggled to break through a well-organized UVic defence. Koffie and Chiumiento both demonstrated some neat touches and turns but were unable to find the killer pass to unlock the defence for the remainder of the opening 45 minutes.
Vancouver looked brighter after the restart and a canny slide pass by Greg Klazura inside the fullback saw reserve midfielder Matt Watson slip inside the 18 where he smashed a hard shot through the raised hands of UVic ‘keeper Elliot Mitrou at the 52nd minute mark.
Following the two goal lead, the Whitecaps eased up and UVic pushed back hard.
A mistake by the otherwise solid right fullback Klazura on the heels of the diminutive UVic midfielder Thomas Mallette led to a penalty for UVic, which was dispatched convincingly by UVic striker Craig Gorman in the 67th minute.
Vancouver then shuffled their line-up with some reserve players but struggled to regain their dominance.
The Whitecaps were eventually able to close out the game 2-1, although a nice turn on the bye line and cutback pass late on by UVic’s MVP of last season Cam Hundal should have resulted in the tying goal by Mallette, who disappointingly skied his side foot effort just over the bar.
As expected, Vancouver won the game but failed to exhibit the full extent of their superior talent. Outside of the penalty, ‘keeper Brad Knighton had little to do.
Fullbacks Harvey and Klazura generally looked comfortable on the ball and tackled well (other than the penalty).
Koffie and Chiumiento worked hard in the centre of the park but were limited by the ineffectiveness of forwards Salgado and Mattocks, who both disappointed with their initiative and lack of aggression.
Substitute Bryce Alderson (two time Canadian U-17 Player of the Year) looked composed in a late game appearance, linking well between the back line and the forwards.
Vancouver had some bright moments overall with a limited line-up, but was ultimately disappointing in this latest exhibition.
One positive to take going forward though is that the midfield unit of Davidson, Chiumiento, Watson and particularly Koffie had some bright moments.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Brad Knighton; 39.Greg Klazura, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 41.Suley Nuru, 3.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie (31.Russell Teibert 59’), 20.Davide Chiumiento (36.Bryce Alderson 70’), 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 16.Matt Watson (34.Caleb Clarke 85’); 22.Darren Mattocks (23.Long Tan 79′), 17.Omar Salgado (30.Bilal Duckett 70’)
Subs not used: 24.Callum Irving, 2.Michael Boxall
University of Victoria Vikes
29.Elliot Mitrou; 21.Gavin Barrett, 6.Toshi Hayashi (19.Alex Redpath 45’), 11.James Rhodes (10.Thomas Mallette 59’), 17.Andrew Ravenhill; 5.David Adams; 23.Cam Hundal, 16.Craig Taylor, 8.Joel Gomez (7.Wesley Barrett 45’), 27.Craig Gorman; 12.Kyle Kostis
Subs not used: 1.Michael Branion-Calles, 3.Spencer MacKinnon, 4.Colin Wilson, 14.Kurt Macaulay, 20.Connor Boag