The beat goes on for WFC2.
Daniel Haber’s 90th minute winner secured a wild 3-2 home win over the struggling Tulsa Roughnecks and extended the ‘Caps (4-0-2) undefeated streak to six straight to start the season. Vancouver erased one goal deficits twice through goals from Kyle Grieg and Kianz Froese before Haber struck for the winner.
“We’re obviously ecstatic,” said Alan Koch. “To be down a goal and come back, and go 2-1 down and come back, and then finish it off 3-2, we’re very very happy to get the three points.”
Despite the large gap in the table between the two teams, the ‘Caps found themselves trailing for the third match in a row. Against the run of play, Tulsa captain Sammy Ochoa was able to capitalize on a rare error from Sem de Wit as the ‘Caps centre back misplayed a long clearance, allowing Ochoa in alone against Marco Carducci where he made no mistake.
Undeterred, WFC2 continued to play on the front foot as the visitors sunk back, defending deep and daring the young ‘Caps to try to break them down. Marco Bustos striking the post just before the 20 minute mark would prove to be the best chance of the half.
Finally, after over an hour of frustration against the stubborn Tulsa set up, WFC2 broke through thanks to a bit of magic from a 17 year old. Kadin Chung showed the confidence belying his age as he turned between two defenders in the box before clipping in a cross that was headed home by the recently substituted Grieg.
“[Chung] keeps getting better and better,” said Koch. “Obviously he had a moment of brilliance to get us going with the first goal.”
The glory was short lived however, as Ochoa was back at it again in the 79th. The Tulsa captain rose unchallenged on a rare Tulsa corner to give his side the lead once more. However WFC2 wouldn’t go away. Ben McKendry and second half substitute Daniel Haber were each unable to convert glorious chances in the 81st and 84th minute respectively before Froese finally put away a scramble in the Tulsa box thanks to a deflection in the 86th.
That set the stage for Haber’s heroics. McKendry, who had himself another strong box to box game, found Erik Hurtado with a lovely weighted pass out to the wing. Hurtado then calmly cut the ball back from the touchline to Haber who took a touch before lacing the winner into the far corner.
“We showed a lot of resiliency coming back twice,” said Haber. “I’m proud of the team, the way we kept fighting, everyone that came in seemed to make an impact and we’re happy for each other when we have success as a team.”
The comeback meant that WFC2 moved within two points of first place LA Galaxy II with two games in hand. After struggling through large stretches last season, the team finds itself in unfamiliar territory near the top of the Western Conference table.
“We said this last year when we weren’t winning, we’ll take it game by game. And now that we’re winning, we still say we’re going to go game by game,” said Koch. “We’re not looking too far ahead.”
WFC2 are in action next on May 15 when they host Los Angeles Galaxy II
Photo courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps FC / Bob Frid