Saturday, March 06, 2010

Whitecaps hold Sounders off

The Vancouver Whitecaps - Seattle Sounders exhibition match earlier today was a pretty good display of soccer. The final score was 0-0 [Bruce Constantineau, Vancouver Sun], but both teams had their chances. Seattle held most of the possession, which is what you'd expect from an MLS side against a Division II one, but they weren't able to convert on their scoring opportunities. Steve Zakuani was perhaps the Sounders' best player, constantly making things happen on the wing with his speed. He did score once, but it was nullified thanks to an offside. Kasey Keller also turned in a solid performance in net for the Sounders.

On the Whitecaps' side, there was some progress as well. New acquisition Blake Wheeler looked solid in midfield and had one of the team's better chances when he narrowly missed in the second half. Young striker Dever Orgill looked good as well, which is reassuring; he has been dominant with the residency team in the past, but didn't make too much of an impression in his limited time with the top squad last year. Marcus Haber and Charles Gbeke are definitely major losses up front, but if Orgill, Marlon James and Randy Edwini-Bonsu can step up, it may be a strong year for the Whitecaps.

As I pointed out in my preview over at Sounder at Heart, the Whitecaps are in a state of flux this year, both on the pitch and off. They're simultaneously building for MLS in 2011 and trying to compete in the new USSF Division II this season. If last year is any indication, the priority will be the future, but there's enough talent on this squad that they could contend this year as well; they did make the USL final last year, after all, and they have more potentially key pieces coming in than going out.

The biggest question will be up front, as Haber and Gbeke carried much of the weight on that front last season, and that's what makes a 0-0 game a tad troubling. It is just a friendly, though, and the team had plenty of chances. More importantly, their young players acquitted themselves quite well. Holding an MLS side to a draw is no small accomplishment; it's not a unrealistic one, but it's not to be shrugged off either. The Whitecaps played well today; we'll see if they can carry that momentum into the regular season.

[Cross-posted to The 24th Minute]

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