SACRAMENTO, CA – Facing a stiff test against the defending USL champions, Whitecaps FC 2 (WFC2) fought valiantly but fell 2-0 to Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday.
On a cool evening at Bonney Field, head coach Alan Koch mixed up his lineup from Sunday’s match against Orange County Blues FC. Only centre back Tim Parker, midfielder Ben McKendry, and winger Sahil Sandhu started for the second time in four days, while, strikers MacKenzie Pridham and Billy Schuler earned their first starts of the season for the Blue and White.
Sacramento had the better of the chances early on. On 16 minutes, Spencer Richey came up with a big save on Rodrigo Lopez as he broke in on goal. Then on 29 minutes, Republic FC midfielder Octavio Guzman fired a shot wide of the far post.
Though they held off the home side early, the ‘Caps would concede on 32 minutes. After Lopez stole the ball he played a quick one-two with striker David Estrada before poking a shot past Richey to make it 1-0.
But the young ‘Caps were not intimidated. Midfielder Victor Blasco, who looked lively, had a chance late in the first half when he sped onto a through ball from Schuler before having his low shot saved by goalkeeper Patrick McLain.
WFC2 came out strong to start the second half. On 48 minutes, a free kick from midfielder Mitch Piraux was headed on target by Pridham but saved by McLain. The ‘Caps threatened again on the ensuing corner kick, nearly willing the ball into the net from a goalmouth scramble before a foul was eventually called.
As Koch’s side continued to build into the match, they had another close chance on 58 minutes. After a throw-in, a quick pass from Schuler saw Pridham get a shot off, but McLain again made the save.
From there, the momentum swung back the way of Sacramento, but Richey kept the ‘Caps in the match with a number of big saves. Unfortunately for Richey, he couldn’t make the save on 71 minutes when Lopez struck again, surprising him with a shot from the halfway line to make it 2-0, securing victory for the home team.
After four matches on the road to start the season, WFC2 now return to Vancouver for their inaugural home match this coming Sunday, April 19 against Toronto FC II at Thunderbird Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. PT