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'Caps Fall to 1-0 Cardiff in First Preseason Match of 2017

January 27, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Vancouver Whitecaps FC News Release

VALE OF GLAMORGAN, WALES - A "mix and match" Vancouver Whitecaps FC side fell 1-0 to Cardiff City FC's U-23s on Friday morning in their first preseason match of 2017.

Cardiff trialist Sobwale scored the game's only goal in the 48th minute, capitalizing on a Whitecaps FC turnover before lobbing one in from 20 yards. The closed-door friendly was played over three 30-minute periods, with most Whitecaps FC players getting about 45 minutes under their belt.

"It was 45 minutes of fitness within a game scenario," Vancouver Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters after the match. "That was the positive. And there was lots of good little linkup plays, which we've worked on in the first few days of training. We're three days of training in, we've already played 45 minutes, we looked to a decent level, but it's still building stage."

Robinson fielded a starting lineup composed of 10 returning players on Friday, with goalkeeper David Ousted getting the nod between the sticks.

In front of him, rookie right back Jakob Nerwinski, centre backs Tim Parker and Christian Dean, and left back Jordan Harvey formed an all-American back line. Andrew Jacobson and Matias Laba partnered in midfield, Alphonso Davies and Marcel de Jong occupied the wings, and Kekuta Manneh played centrally underneath striker Erik Hurtado.

Notably, it was the first Whitecaps FC match experience for Nerwinski, one of five MLS SuperDraft selections in Robinson's starting XI, and a return to action for Dean and Manneh, who both missed significant time due to injury in 2016. Nerwinski, in fact, was the only Whitecaps FC player to go 90 minutes, with Robinson making a number of subs throughout the match.

"He did well," Robinson said of Nerwinski. "I've got no concerns with him playing 90 minutes. Sheanon has a small injury and he's trying to get himself up to speed. Jake's fit because he played three games in five days at the combine. No problem at all. He should be proud of his first 90 minutes."

The reason Whitecaps FC came to the United Kingdom for their preseason this year was to play competitive matches against players already in midseason form.

And that's exactly what they got.

"The majority of guys probably thought it might be like that, but didn't exactly expect the physicality of it, tackles flying in the first five minutes," Robinson said. "When that happens, you have to move the ball quick, you have to play quick, you have to play sharp, and you have to put the work in. My boys certainly did that today. It was a great eye-opener for them, but it was exactly what we need."

The 'Caps certainly created some quality chances on a chilly morning at the Cardiff City Training Complex. They came close in the second minute, in fact, with Dean heading a de Jong free kick just wide of the near post. Nerwinski also had a chance to open the scoring in the 33rd minute, seeing his strike parried away from close range after a nice one-two with Davies down the right.

Whitecaps FC, who made seven changes at the 45-minute mark and a few more following the second period, concluded the match with four Residency graduates in midfield: Marco Bustos, Ben Mckendry, and WFC2 duo Thomas Gardner and David Norman.

And, in Robinson's words, they played some "excellent stuff."

"I think the young boys stepping into an environment like this, you're always wary about what to expect," he said. "Dave Norman and Tommy Gardner certainly got right fired in. They were playing against some very good players, some players who play first-team football, so it was a good start for them."

Bustos and McKendry also looked lively.

Bustos, in fact, nearly set up a 'Caps equalizer, springing Kyle Greig on a partial breakaway in the 89th minute. The WFC2 graduate fired a low strike across the face of goal but Cardiff's keeper made a fingertip save to preserve the victory.

Whitecaps FC continue their UK preseason tour on Monday against League One outfit Oxford United FC (5 a.m. PT, Dragon Park), before facing Championship side Bristol City FC on Thursday, February 2 to conclude the trip. After a short stay in Vancouver, the 'Caps will then travel to Portland for the annual Timbers Preseason Tournament as they continue to build-up towards the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals vs. New York Red Bulls. .

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