Chicago Fire – 1, Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 1: ‘Caps enter First Kick undefeated in three matches

PORTLAND, OREGON – Bring on March 7.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC played to a 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire Saturday afternoon in their preseason finale at Providence Park.

Centre back Pa-Modou Kah opened the scoring for the ‘Caps in the 31st minute with his second goal in as many games, but Shahdon Winshester scored a 90th-minute equalizer to rescue a draw for the Fire – their third such result this week in Portland.

After wins over the host Portland Timbers and Norwegian side Stabæk Fotball, Vancouver had already clinched the Simple Invitational title coming into Saturday’s contest.

They’re now undefeated in three matches heading into next weekend’s regular season opener against Toronto FC at BC Place (tickets still available).

Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson fielded a strong lineup against the Fire, similar to the team that defeated the Timbers last weekend. The only change saw Nicolas Mezquida replace Mauro Rosales on the right wing. Rosales, and forward Erik Hurtado, were left out of the squad with knocks.

Saturday’s match got off to an open start on a sunny afternoon at Providence Park.

Mezquida and Russell Teibert looked particularly lively for the ‘Caps going forward, but Chicago had the better chances in the early stages.

Fortunately for the Blue and White, goalkeeper David Ousted looked in midseason form. In the ninth minute, the Dane made a diving save off a well-taken Quincy Amarikwa strike from just outside the box. And then in the 17th minute, he came up big again with another diving save after Kennedy Igboananike headed a Shaun Maloney free kick towards the bottom left corner of goal.

Chicago looked the more likely side to score, but Vancouver had their chances as well. And they opened the scoring in the 31st minute.

After a Pedro Morales corner was cleared, Teibert let loose a second-phase volley that Kah redirected into the back of the net with a glancing header to put Whitecaps FC ahead 1-0.

Mezquida came close to doubling Vancouver’s advantage in the 35th minute, when some sloppy defending resulted in an opportunity from inside the area – an opportunity Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson turned away with one of his two first-half saves.

Both teams tightened things up a bit in the second half, which made for some scrappy play at both ends. There were a few chances though.

Chicago nearly equalized in the 64th minute, when a flicked on corner found Lovel Palmer in the centre of the box. But the Jamaican defender sent his volley over the goal.

After making three subs just after the hour-mark, the ‘Caps started to come on as well.

Substitute Darren Mattocks, who played on the left wing, was buzzing and striker Octavio Rivero also started to get more involved.

The Uruguayan had two or three quality opportunities, including in the 65th minute when he found some space in behind after chesting down a perfect chipped ball by Kekuta Manneh. But Johnson got just enough of Rivero’s side-footed effort to keep the Fire in the game.

It proved to be a game-saver.

Winchester equalized for the Fire just before the final whistle, capping off a great run with a 20-yard strike that just eluded a sprawling Ousted, who was outstanding on the night.

Whitecaps FC conclude their preseason schedule with a 4W-2L-2D record. They now return to Vancouver ahead of their regular season opener next Saturday, March 7 against Toronto FC. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. PT at BC Place.


Scoring Summary
31′ – VAN – Pa-Modou Kah (Russell Teibert)
90′ – CHI – Shahdon Winchester

Match Stats
Shots: Chicago 15 – Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: Chicago 5- Vancouver 5
Saves: Chicago 3 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Chicago 10 – Vancouver 12
Offsides: Chicago 0 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Chicago 6 – Vancouver 9

52′ – VAN – Kendall Waston

Chicago Fire
25.Sean Johnson; 5.Lovel Palmer, 20.Jeff Larentowicz, 6.Eric Gehrig, 3.Joevin Jones; 8.Matt Watson (26.Michael Stephens 68′), 21.Chris Ritter (2.Matt Polster 72′), 10.Shaun Maloney, 19.Harry Shipp (27.Kingsley Bryce 82′); 24.Quincy Amarikwa, 77.Kennedy Igboananike (29.Shahdon Winchester 68′)

Substitutes not used
1.Alec Kann, 18.Jon Busch, 16.Greg Cochrane, 17.Collin Fernandez, 22.Patrick Doody, 46.Albert Edward

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 4.Kendall Waston, 44.Pa-Modou Kah, 2.Jordan Harvey (3.Sam Adekugbe 63′); 15.Matias Laba, 31.Russell Teibert (28.Gershon Koffie 63′); 9.Nicolas Mezquida (11.Darren Mattocks 63′), 77.Pedro Morales, 23.Kekuta Manneh; 29.Octavio Rivero

Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 8.Robert Earnshaw, 18.Diego Rodriguez, 22.Christian Dean, 26.Tim Parker, 27.Ethen Sampson, 30.Ben McKendry, 32.Marco Bustos, 34.Caleb Clarke, 38.Kianz Froese