VANCOUVER, BC - The Vancouver Whitecaps FC2 (8W-14L-6D) took the rain sodden pitch at UBC Thunderbird Stadium for the final time in their inaugural USL season to face the Austin Aztex (10W-15L-3D) on Sunday afternoon, but despite a wonderful brace from midfielder Brett Levis the Thundercaps conceded three unanswered goals to fall by a final score of 3-2 to the visitors.
Eager to find a win for their fans on the final day of the season, WFC2 started the match with plenty of energy and tempo. The Thundercaps had two early chances to get on the board within the opening quarter of an hour through Sahil Sandhu and captain Tyler Rosenlund, but neither player was able to beat Cody Laurendi in the Austin goal.
The majority of the scoring chances in the first half went the way of WFC2, who also had a goal disallowed in the twenty-first minute. The speedy Levis played a lovely ball forward to Victor Blasco, but the referee's assistant ruled that the WFC2 midfielder was offside and the goal was called back.
After the restart WFC2 picked up where they left off, and Levis opened the scoring in the forty-seventh minute with a spectacular golazo from twenty-five yards. Levis, who recently returned to the side after being injured at the beginning of July, doubled the home side's advantage in the fifty-eighth minute after a lovely move to beat a defender and the keeper to record his brace.
After Levis' second goal Austin began to slowly climb their way back into the match, and were rewarded with a pair of goals from Romain Gall and Tony Rocha in the sixty-sixth and eightieth minutes respectively. In the eighty-fifth minute Kris Tyrpak capped a tough weekend for Whitecaps fans by scoring the winning goal for the Aztex. The loss had an added sting because it meant that the Azteks leapfrogged both WFC2 and Arizona United SC to finish ninth in the USL Western Conference.
It was a disappointing result for Alan Koch's fledgling USL team, a team that has struggled with consistency throughout the season. "I think one of our biggest challenges as a group has been consistency," Koch recently told reporters. "But you really break it down to the individuals. It's obviously a young group and part of young players developing as professional players is finding that consistency. I think we've seen with every player in our group is that they can all play on certain days. They've just got to find those consistent performances and make sure they're good every single day because that's what's going to help them push on."
Koch and his staff have the benefit of a long off season to prepare for next year; a luxury the first year USL coach did not have prior to the start of the season. WFC2's losing record hasn't been a complete disappointment for Koch, who still has seen plenty of improvement and development from his players this year.
"I think we're a team. I think that's our biggest improvement. Obviously at the start of the year we were a brand new franchise. We didn't even have a team, so we just plugged in some players together," said Koch. "But it was brand new, and nobody had really played together in this group and obviously playing in the club's style of play. We've shown significant improvement during the course of the season."
While WFC2, who are one of the youngest squads in USL, haven't always been able to deliver wins on the pitch Koch believes his players have improved since their very first match at the end of March.
"I think we've definitely progressed, and the individual players can say they've progressed," said Koch. "If you go and ask each and every single one of the guys playing for us if they're better players today than they were at the start of the season I'm pretty sure you'll get a resounding yes."
That, at least, is a good sign and with an entire winter to prepare for next year you can be sure that Koch and WFC2 will be ready for their next USL campaign which is scheduled to kick off in spring 2016.
47' - VAN - Brett Levis
58' - VAN - Brett Levis
66' - ATX - Romain Gall
80' - ATX - Tony Rocha
85' - ATX - Kris Tyrpak (Mozzi Gyorio)
Shots: VAN 13 - ATX 11
Saves: VAN 2 - ATX 5
Corners: VAN 3 - ATX 4
40' - VAN - Andre Lewis
49' - VAN - Will Seymore
59' - ATX - Mikey Ambrose
Whitecaps FC 2
39.Spencer Richey; 50.Sahil Sandhu, 41.Jackson Farmer, 22.Christian Dean (64.Thomas Gardner 60'), 42.Jordan Haynes; 45.Tyler Rosenlund ©, 58.Will Seymore; 25.Andre Lewis (63.Kadin Chung 60'), 46.Brett Levis (51.Billy Schuler 70'), 48.Victor Blasco (49.Mackenzie Pridham 77'); 34.Caleb Clarke (47.Jovan Blagojevic 85')
Substitutes not used
24.Marco Carducci, 62.Deklan Wynne
66.Cody Laurendi; 19.Max Gunderson (15.Bryce Taylor 74'), 24.Sergio Campbell, 25.Lance Rozeboom, 3.Mikey Ambrose; 8.Andres Cuero, 16.Tony Rocha; 18.Kris Tyrpak (12.Drew Yates 88'), 10.Mozzi Gyorio (2.Ryan Roushandel 90'), 9.Romain Gall (17.Brendan King 88'); 21.Trevin Caesar (20.Sainey Touray 63')