Carlyle Mitchell scored in the dying seconds as the Whitecaps tied the Sounders 1-1 in their MLS reserve league opener on Monday morning.
Mitchell, a 24-year-old centre back from Trinidad & Tobago, headed in an Omar Salgado cross in injury time at UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium.
Sammy Ochoa scored around the hour mark from in close to put the visitors ahead.
It was a young Vancouver side, especially in the second half when several residency players took the field. The youngest was left back Sam Adekugbe, a Calgary native who recently turned 17. He replaced Jordan Harvey at halftime.
Caps’ assistant coaches Paul Ritchie and Carl Robinson, who ran the bench together, also finished the game with teenagers Carlos Marquez (Richmond) on right wing, Ben McKendry (Vancouver) in central midfield and Ben Fisk (Vancouver) on left wing.
“Individually, I think there were a lot of good performances,” said Ritchie. “Performances from the younger players they can be proud of.
“It was good to get the goal at the end because I thought they deserved to get something out of the game and I think it just continues the whole philosophy we’re trying to install in the club — trying not to lose anything.
“I thought young Ben McKendry was fantastic.”
“[Adekugbe], he’s got no problems getting up and down [the wing]…he showed today in the second half he can play at this level.”
McKendry showed good skill to volley Salgado’s cut back pass from 25 yards out, though his ambitious attempt sailed over the bar. McKendry also forced Sounder’s goalkeeper Bryan Meredith into a good diving save to keep the score 1-0 at the time.
Whitecaps veterans John Thorrington (quad) and Atiba Harris (knee) warmed up but did not play. Ritchie said the club wanted all players coming off injury to have two or three full practices before they’d consider using them in a reserve league game.
Both are close to a return, though, and might be available for this weekend’s Philadelphia game if all goes well this week in training.
Left-back Alain Rochat, meanwhile, is on crutches after a left knee sprain against D.C. United on Saturday. Ritchie said it’s too early to tell how long Rochat will be out and he hoped they’d know more by mid-week.
Harvey is the obvious replacement for Rochat, while supplemental draft pick Greg Klazura showed well in Monday’s reserve league game and could fill in at right back if Martin Rennie needed to move Y.P. Lee to the left side.
For Mitchell, the goal was the second of the young season, if you count a pre-season effort in Orlando, where he also pushed forward late and delivered.
He and Kiwi Michael Boxall will continue to bide their time after a strong pre-season. Unlike the start of last season, when there was a rash of injuries, international duty and indifferent defensive play to create openings, the first three games this year have all been clean sheets, with Jay DeMerit and Martin Bonjour forming a solid partnership.
“I just wait until my chance comes, and when it comes, I’ll grasp it with both hands,” said Mitchell, who was signed at the roster deadline last season.
“It’s good to put what the coaches are telling you, what you’re learning, to good use,” Boxall said. “Good to get a run. It’s a long season, tons of games, and especially with the Canadian competition coming up, I doubt there’s going to be any one player that plays 90 minutes all season.
“I’m just waiting for an opportunity and when you’re [called] you’ve got to take it.”
1.Brad Knighton; 32 Greg Klazura, 2.Michael Boxall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 3.Jordan Harvey (36.Sam Adekugbe* 45′); 31.Yassin Essa* (42.Carlos Marquez* 27′), 28.Gershon Koffie, 26.Floyd Franks (34.Ben McKendry* 53′), 35.Ben Fisk*, 17.Omar Salgado, 23.Long Tan.