WFC2’s unbeaten 2016 continues, but they were made to work hard to keep it like that by a gritty Tulsa Roughnecks side at Thunderbird Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was a top v bottom Western Conference clash. Nothing could go wrong, right? Well, in the end no, but when former Seattle Sounders MLS player Sammy Ochoa gave Tulsa an 11th minute lead against the run of play, you could tell it was going to be a tough night.
Marco Bustos crashed a shot off the post in the 20th minute, but that was as close as the Whitecaps came to levelling things up in the first half.
Some fresh legs came on in the 66th minute to help the ‘Caps cause, in the form of captain and leading scorer Kyle Greig. A minute later and it was 1-1, with Greig heading home a Kadin Chung cross, after the 17-year-old showed amazing skill to spin through the Tulsa defence to set up the chance.
— USL (@USL) May 5, 2016
The ‘Caps pushed for the lead but the Roughnecks were happy to form defensive lines and try and hit on the break and Tulsa re-took the lead with 11 minutes remaining, when Ochoa was allowed to rise unchallenged and head home a corner.
Tulsa reinforced their backline to try and hold on to all three points, but the ‘Caps tore forward and tried to break them down. They had a couple of close calls before Kianz Froese made it 2-2, making room for himself in the box after some good build up play from Thomas Gardner, then firing home.
But the Whitecaps weren’t prepared to settle for a share of the spoils and kept pressing. It paid off in the 89th minute when Daniel Haber was set up by a brilliant Erik Hurtado pass and fired home the winner.
— USL (@USL) May 5, 2016
It was a tremendous fighting performance. Not the best all round performance to be honest, and despite the five goals, not the most enthralling of games, but it’s matches like this that show the character that Alan Koch has instilled in this whole group.
The win keeps WFC2 unbeaten this season, with four wins and two draws from their six matches so far. That takes them to second place in the Western Conference, two points behind Los Angeles Galaxy II (their next opponents), but with two games in hand.
It’s going to be an exciting season and the best kind of development these young players can get is to be on a winning team. Success breeds champions.
AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was there to capture all the action before, during and after the game and here’s his “Story In Pictures”, with a full Flickr slideshow at the end.[Also check out Tom’s website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work].
How all the super villain referees will now be led out onto the pitch
WFC2’s MLS-heavy starting XI
The ‘Caps came out fast and Kianz Froese forced Roughnecks keeper Jake Feener into a low fourth minute save
Sammy Ochoa latches onto a long ball forward, shakes off Sem de Wit and tucks away an 11th minute opener for Tulsa
And the joy was clear to see for the team at the bottom of the West
Marco Bustos can only look on as his 20th minute strike crashes off the post
Did anyone question these guys about the theft of the ‘Caps boots?
Tulsa Roughnecks have the best jersey sponsor you’ll see this year. I want one!
A beautiful sunset at UBC #SummerFootball
It’s all square in the 67th minute after some sick skill from Kadin Chung sets up Kyle Greig, who heads home his fifth of the season
But in the 79th minute Sammy Ochoa is allowed to jump unchallenged at a corner
And easily heads home his, and Tulsa’s, second to give the visitors a late 2-1 lead
Will Tulsa’s joy last this time around? Nope!
A perfect night for football under the lights
The ‘Caps push for another equaliser and Greig gets his head on a cross
But Tulsa keeper Jake Feener saves on the line
The equaliser comes with five minutes remaining when some great build up play from Thomas Gardner sets up Kianz Froese
Who makes room for the shot and lashes his effort home
2-2 and very much game on for this spirited bunch. There’s still time!
And in the 89th minute, the ball comes to Daniel Haber on the edge of the box, who fires goalwards
Past the diving Jake Feener
And into the net for the winner and Daniel Haber’s third of the season
The most beautiful sight of the night for the still unbeaten ‘Caps
You can see all of Tom’s photos from the ‘Star Wars Night’ game HERE and in our full Flickr slideshow below: