Playing the second leg of their USSF D-2 Pro League playoff semifinal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (1W-2L-1D) saw their time at the North American second division level come to a disappointing end on Sunday. A 2-0 extra-time defeat at home to Puerto Rico Islanders (2W-1L-1D) gave the visitors a 2-0 aggregate victory in the series.
Former ‘Caps striker Nicholas Addlery came off the substitutes’ bench to haunt his old club, as he scored both goals in the second period of extra time to take the Caribbean club to their second championship final in three seasons. It was also Puerto Rico’s first-ever win over Whitecaps FC in Vancouver, with La Tropa Naranja (The Orange Troop) bringing the Blue and White’s long and storied tenure at Swangard Stadium to a disappointing close.
After drawing 0-0 in the first leg, both sides needed extra time in Sunday’s second leg to determine the semifinal series winner, and it was the reigning Caribbean club champions that claimed the decisive result after 120 minutes of action. Victory for Puerto Rico takes them to the two-match USSF D-2 championship final series, where they will meet NASL Conference winners Carolina RailHawks. The North Carolina outfit reached the championship final in equally dramatic style after defeating Montreal Impact 2-0 at home in Sunday’s semifinal, second leg, for a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Looking to make the most of their home advantage, Whitecaps FC head coach Teitur Thordarson made some interesting adjustments for the second leg. In a bid to attack with speed down the flanks, Ridge Mobulu and the fit-again Wes Knight came into the wide midfield positions. In attack, youngster Kyle Porter made his first-ever start for the ‘Caps alongside captain Martin Nash.
A sunny autumn day in Burnaby, BC, greeted the 5,325 fans that attended their weekend contest, with the first half seeing chances created at both ends.
Some good early pressure from the lively Porter and the ever-dangerous Terry Dunfield gave the home fans the sense that a ‘Caps goal was soon coming. Instead, the first real chance of the match fell to Puerto Rico on 12 minutes. Despite being in an offside position, Islanders striker Kendall Jagdeosingh deflected Keon Daniel’s shot into the path of an unmarked David Foley. The Englishman’s point-blank shot was brilliantly saved by ‘Caps goalkeeper Jay Nolly.
While they showed little attacking endeavour in the first leg on Thursday, Whitecaps FC had more purpose going forward on Sunday. On 24 minutes, Mobulu was unfortunate to see his first-time shot clip the top of the Puerto Rico crossbar after Porter had picked him out on the edge of the box with a neat pass.
Porter showed some nifty feet at times in the Vancouver attack, while at the other end, Foley was testing youngster Ethan Gage down the left flank with his pace and trickery.
The opening half ended with striking chances for Dunfield on 40 minutes, and Jagdeosingh four minutes later, that both missed their intended target. It meant that both sides completed three halves of goalless soccer action.
With the series still in the balance, Whitecaps FC showed more tempo in their play after halftime. This resulted in set of chances for the home side.
On 55 minutes, Nash was unlucky not to get on the end of Willis Forko’s cross right in front of the Islanders’ goal, while three minutes later, Dunfield forced Islanders goalkeeper Bill Gaudette into a good save with a close-range drive. Puerto Rico defender David Horst was then called on to make a headed clearance from his own six-yard box on 63 minutes after Nash tried to send a shot goalwards following a poor punched clearance by Gaudette.
With the goalless scoreline holding firm, Thordarson tried to freshen his side by introducing Davide Chiumiento and Philippe Davies into his wide midfield positions, as well as Randy Edwini-Bonsu into his attack.
The moves brought no change to the scoreline, as match referee Dave Gantar blew his whistle after three minutes of time added on to send the game, and the series, to extra time.
The first extra-time period offered little in terms of opportunities, though substitute Edwini-Bonsu posed a threat to Puerto Rico’s backline during that first 15-minute spell.
It was in the second period of extra time that the semifinal was finally determined, and unfortunately for ‘Caps fans, it was the Islanders that broke through after Gaudette brilliantly saved Dunfield’s half-volleyed strike from the edge of the Puerto Rico box on 112 minutes.
The Islanders worked their way down the pitch, with midfielder Christopher Nurse striking a forward ball that came off the foot of Gage and fell kindly to Addlery. The substitute’s first-time strike from the edge of the Vancouver box flew past a diving Nolly and into the back of the net to stun the Swangard crowd on 113 minutes. It was the Jamaican international’s seventh goal of the year.
With only a few minutes left to save their 2010 season, Whitecaps FC desperately pushed forward in search of an equalizer. This prompted Nolly to join the Vancouver attack for a ‘Caps corner in the two minutes of time added on.
However, the Islanders were able to clear that corner, and with Nolly caught up the pitch, substitute Sandy Gbandi found a streaking Addlery on the break. He then rounded Nolly at the halfway line before racing forward and slotting the ball into an empty net from 35 yards out for a 2-0 win in the match and the series. Puerto Rico will open the 2010 USSF D-2 Finals on October 24th against the Carolina RailHawks at home. the return leg will be October 30th.
113′ – PR – Nick Addlery
120’+ – PR – Nick Addlery
Shots: Puerto Rico 5 – Vancouver 16
Saves: Puerto Rico 7 – Vancouver 2
Fouls: Puerto Rico 13 – Vancouver 9
Offsides: Puerto Rico 7 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Puerto Rico 4 – Vancouver 6
11′ – VAN – Ridge Mobulu
31′ – PR – David Horst
114′ – PR – Nick Addlery
Puerto Rico Islanders
1.Bill Gaudette; 3.Richard Martinez, 4.Marco Velez (21.Logan Emory 98′), 13.David Horst, 19.Kevon Villaroel; 5.Noah Delgado (15.Sandy Gbandi 105′), 8.Christopher Nurse, 17.Keon Daniel (11.Nick Addlery 84′), 26.Edwin Miranda; 7.David Foley (6.Alexis Rivera 119′), 10.Kendall Jagdeosingh (20.Josh Hansen 73′)
Subs not used: 23.Cody Laurendi, 16.Joseph Salem
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Jay Nolly; 33.Willis Forko, 3.Luca Bellisomo, 14.Greg Janicki, 20.Ethan Gage; 11.Ridge Mobulu (9.Davide Chiumiento 64′), 28.Gershon Koffie, 6.Terry Dunfield, 8.Wes Knight (15.Philippe Davies 90′); 7.Martin Nash (24.Alexandre Morfaw 105′), 16.Kyle Porter (17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu 70’)
Subs not used: 31.Simon Thomas, 4.Chris Williams, 55.Mouloud Akloul