Photo courtesy of Arizona United SC
PEORIA, Ariz. – Arizona Untied SC’s Luke Rooney tallied two second-half goals and Chris Cortez garnered a stoppage-time game-winner to lead the host side to a thrilling 3-2 victory against Western Conference-leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Wednesday at the Peoria Sports Complex. Arizona came back after WFC2’s attack had produced a Daniel Haber score late in the first half and a Fatawu Safiu tally in the second half. Arizona improves to 6-8-6 (24 points) overall and 3-3-4 at home, also breaking a four-game home winless streak (0-2-2) heading in. Vancouver still sits atop the West but falls to 10-5-6 (36 points) overall and 5-4-4 on the road. WFC2 had opened the season with a stellar 4-0-2 road record. This is the first of two meetings between the sides this season. Vancouver hosts Arizona on Aug. 21 at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley, B.C.
45’ – VAN – Daniel Haber (Will Seymore)
54’ – VAN – Fatawu Safiu (Jackson Farmer)
65’ – AZ – Luke Rooney (Daniel Antunez)
78’ – AZ – Luke Rooney (Long Tan)
90’+ – AZ – Chris Cortez (Long Tan)
Three Things That Mattered:
1. United had the brunt of the scoring chances for most of the match, relying heavily on Tyler Blackwood for the first half and early second half. It looked for a long time that United simply wouldn’t have the offense to overcome a two-goal deficit, but that changed down the stretch. Arizona found its offense through the boot of Luke Rooney in the 65th and 78th minutes. For Rooney’s first score, Daniel Antunez had the setup pass from the right, and Rooney moved with the ball to his left and fired a left-footed shot from 16 yards out inside the far left post past Melvin. Thirteen minutes later, it was Tan with the dish from the right as he laid the ball off for Rooney who again fired into the left of the frame – this time right-footed – to tie the score at 2-2. Then in stoppage time, Tan flicked a header to Chris Cortez, who finished for a thrilling winner.
2. WFC2’s attack was sporadic in the opening half, but they capitalized just before the halftime break on the counter to take a lead. Will Seymore used the outside of his right foot to provide a through ball to Daniel Haber, who then did some extra legwork to create his goal. Haber eluded charging United goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski who tried to intercept well off of his line. Haber broke to his left and waited for the right moment to slot his shot into the back of the net, giving Vancouver the 1-0 lead in the 45th minute. In the second half, WFC2 created some distance from United with a 54th-minute score from Fatawu Safiu. Jackson Farmer played a deep ball from the back and Safiu did the rest, making a run to his right and firing inside the right post past Woszczynski for a 2-0 cushion. Haber has six goals on the season and Safiu now has four.
3. Vancouver’s lineup was heavily revamped as a number of WFC2 regulars were up with the MLS side for Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s 1-0 win against Central FC of Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League action. That group included goalkeeper Spencer Richey who started and earned the clean sheet and midfielder Brett Levis who assisted on the lone tally. Against Arizona, Sean Melvin manned the net for WFC2 for his seventh appearance. Melvin was a crucial cog in Vancouver’s lineup Wednesday night. He made five saves in the first half alone, and his quick distribution after a save eventually led to Vancouver’s 45th-minute score from Haber. The biggest play of the match was Melvin’s penalty kick stop against Long Tan in the 71st minute when Arizona had gained some significant momentum.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Luke Rooney, Arizona United SC – Rooney provided a massive charge for United with two second-half goals to rally the host side.
Arizona United SC at Orange County Blues FC – Aug. 7, 7 p.m. ET, Anteater Stadium
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC 2 – Aug. 6, 6 p.m. ET, UBC Thunderbird Stadium