Photo courtesy of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 overcame an early deficit and rallied for a 2-1 victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC during Friday’s Western Conference Quarterfinal match of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs at Switchbacks Stadium. Playing on a slick pitch, Kianz Froese scored off of his own rebound in the 31st minute and it served as the winner for WFC2, which was playing in its first postseason match. Vancouver captain Kyle Greig started the rally with a 17th-minute goal. Colorado Springs enjoyed a strong start with Switchbacks captain Luke Vercollone heading home a seventh-minute score, but the host side was unable to hold onto that early advantage. Defensively, WFC2 had one of its better games despite the poor start. Kadin Chung had a couple strong tackles, the back line limited the attack of players such as Miguel Gonzalez and Vancouver solidified things after a rough opening 15 minutes. WFC2 will face either No. 2 seed Rio Grande Valley FC or No. 7 seed OKC Energy FC next week in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Vancouver’s first postseason game took place at a venue that saw very few Colorado Springs losses as the Switchbacks posted an impressive 10-2-3 record at Switchbacks Stadium during the regular season. The USL Playoffs are a whole new element, and for WFC2, the visiting club found enough of a spark and some bounces to rally from a goal down. The winner came from Kianz Froese, whose initial shot was deflected by Colorado Springs’ defense. He then earned a second opportunity and shot right-footed, sneaking his shot inside the near left post in the 31st minute. Switchbacks goalkeeper Devala Gorrick appeared to have been shielded by several of his defenders as he could only watch the ball drive past him.
2. It wasn’t a surprise that “experience” was the theme of the night. From a team standpoint, the Switchbacks had the far greater edge in that department taking on first-time postseason side Vancouver on Friday. The Switchbacks’ strong returning corps from last season made a statement in the buildup toward the opening goal in just the seventh minute. WFC2 coughed up the ball in the midfield as Miguel Gonzalez came up with the steal, found Josh Suggs with ample space on the left and he crossed in for Switchbacks captain Luke Vercollone, whose nine-yard header found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. The first 10 minutes certainly set the tone as the Switchbacks were confident from the get-go, while Vancouver was back on its heels trying to limit any further damage in the early minutes.
3. For Vancouver, the only player with ample USL experience, as well as postseason experience, is captain Kyle Greig who had faced these Switchbacks last year while with OKC Energy FC. Greig and WFC2 had a bit of good fortune in the 17th minute when the visiting team had very little possession in the opening half. Nevertheless, the ball bounced Vancouver’s way after Matthew Baldisimo chunked his initial shot as it eventually found the foot of Greig who took a crack at the right side of the goal. Gorrick got a deflection, but he wasn’t able to keep it out of the back of the net as Greig, Vancouver’s leading goal scorer during the regular season, notched the equalizer. Greig’s strong play continued into the second half when he tested Gorrick in the 50th minute and was unfortunate to see a second tally. His shot was bound for the upper right corner and Gorrick came up with a clutch stretch save.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Kyle Greig, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – Greig began the rally for Vancouver and was unfortunate not to find a second tally in the early moments of the second half.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – End of Season
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: Western Conference Semifinals vs. No. 2 Rio Grande Valley FC or No. 7 OKC Energy FC, TBD
7’ – COS – Luke Vercollone (Josh Suggs)
17’ – VAN – Kyle Greig
31’ – VAN – Kianz Froese
COS: 1-Devala Gorrick; 44-Jordan Burt, 3-Christian Ibeagha (9-Marty Maybin, 82’), 2-Josh Phillips, 5-Josh Suggs; 8-Rony Argueta, 19-Conor Doyle (34-J.J. Greer, 78’), 35-Taeseong Kim (11-Saeed Robinson, 62’); 4-Luke Vercollone (6-Davy Armstrong, 86’), 12-Mike Seth, 10-Miguel Gonzalez
VAN: 39-Spencer Richey; 63-Kadin Chung, 51-Sem de Wit, 14-Cole Seiler, 46-Brett Levis; 38-Kianz Froese, 64-Thomas Gardner (57-Thomas Sanner, 88’), 65-Matthew Baldisimo (58-Will Seymore, 77’); 56-Daniel Haber (48-Christopher Diaz, 70’), 47-Kyle Greig, 32-Marco Bustos (45-Giuliano Frano, 90+4’)
Venue: Switchbacks Stadium