The Vancouver Whitecaps have kicked off their second tournament of the 2016 pre-season with a loss, falling to the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Sunday. After a perfect, 3-0 run in Tucson Arizona a few weeks ago, the Whitecaps traveled to Portland for the 2016 Simple Invitational, a three team tourney that features the Timbers, Fire and 'Caps.
The Whitecaps starting 11 featured about 9 players that will probably be on the pitch to open the regular season in a few weeks time, including David Ousted, Kendall Waston and Pedro Morales. The only real difference was the absence of defensive midfield stalwart Matias Laba, who sat out in favor of youngster Deybi Flores, and the inclusion of Christian Dean at Center Back, a spot that is still very much up for grabs. No doubt Head Coach Carl Robinson wanted to get another look at Flores before he left for the Honduran U-23 team after the match. The Whitecaps would roll out a 4-1-4-1 formation for this one, with Morales joined by Christian Bolanos, Christian Techera, and Kekuta Manneh in the midfield, while Octavio Rivero got the start up top.
Despite the talent in the lineup, the Whitecaps would begin the match on their heels. John Goossens pounced on a 'Caps turnover in the 5th minute, scoring on a strike from the penalty area that Ousted really had no chance on. After withstanding a few Fire chances, the Whitecaps found their footing and began to fight back. In the 24th minute, luck was on their side, as a Fraser Aird cross deflected off Bolanos and a Fire defender before landing in the back of the net for the own goal.
In the 38th minute, the Whitecaps would take the lead, with Techera finishing a Sam Adekugbe cross to make it 2-1. It was far too easy for Techera, who found himself all alone in front of the net, and was able to tap the ball home for the goal.
The Whitecaps relinquished the lead in the 51st minute, after Kendall Waston was whistled for the first of two costly penalties on the night. Gilberto stepped up to equalize, and would again in the 81st, minute, after Waston was whistled for the second time. The Whitecaps wouldn't come close after that, and fell in a 3-2 final score. No doubt it's a match Kendall Waston wants back, but thankfully it's pre-season. I'd rather he make these mistakes now than in the regular season.
Lineup: Ousted, Aird, Waston, Dean, Adekugbe, Flores, Morales (70' Froese), Techera (76' Perez), Bolanos, Manneh (Bustos 79'), Rivero