Balin Larson battles for the ball (SoundersPhotos.com)
July 7, 2013
TACOMA, Wash. – The Sounders U-23 and Victoria Highlanders battled each other to a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon in the Sounders’ final home match of the 2013 Premier Development League regular season. After dictating the pace for the entire first half, the Sounders U-23 went into the halftime locker room with a 1-0 lead. In the second half, the league leading Highlanders found an equalizer earning each team one point.
In the eighth minute, the Sounders U-23 were looking for the early lead. Midfielder Mauricio Diaz De Leon put the ball through to forward Murphy Campbell in the box. With his back to the goal, Campbell quickly turned and sent a good-looking shot toward the upper right corner of goal. Highlanders keeper, Elliot Mitrou lept into the air and was able to tip the shot just over the bar to keep the Sounders off of the board early.
The Sounders U-23 were threatening again in the 15th minute. Sounders goalkeeper Earl Edwards sent a long ball up the field where midfielder Luis Esteves was able to flicked it on. The ball was immediately flicked on again by Diaz De Leon into the box where Campbell tried his luck on goal running between his defenders. He struck his shot with power, but Mitrou was there again to keep the ball out of the net and keep the match scoreless.
The chances at goal really started to pile up for the Sounders U-23 by the 25th minute. Sounders defender Mark Lee picked up the ball in the box and beat three Highlanders defenders to get his shot off. Once again Mitrou was there to make the save. Then on the next possession, Campbell found himself alone in the box having beaten his mark. This time Campbell’s shot had Mitrou beat, but the ball hit the post squarely and bounced right back into the arms of the Highlanders goalkeeper.
In the 29th minute the Sounders U-23 finally broke through for the first goal of the match. After causing havoc at the back for the Victoria defense all half, Campbell earned a Sounders U-23 free kick a half of a yard outside the top of the box. Diaz De Leon took the kick directly on goal and placed a perfect shot over the wall, and into the left upper corner for a 1-0 lead.
The Sounders U-23 took their 1-0 lead into the half after a dominating performance that could have easily provided a few more goals. The men in green had 10 shots in the first half to the Highlanders three. Campbell was the busiest Sounders attacker notching three shots on his own.
At the start of the second half, Victoria found their attacking stride and put together some better chances on goal. The Sounders U-23 defense was put to the test as the Highlanders sent three consecutive corners into the box in the 58th minute. After the third, the Sounders were finally able to clear the danger.
Diaz De Leon tried for a 2-0 Sounders U-23 lead in the 63rd minute. After earning a free kick just outside the box, Diaz De Leon sent in another swerving shot directly at goal. The ball dipped toward the goal, but Mitrou was able to get just enough of it to push it over the bar.
Victoria continued their second half pressure and earned the equalizer in the 68th minute. Highlanders midfielder Brett Levis sent in a low driving cross across the face of the goal. Sounders U-23 defender Chris Brundage went in for the clearance, but miss timed his attempt. The ball fell to the feet of Victoria substitute Gavin Barrett who easily put his chance into the net to knot the match at 1-1.
In the 79th minute the Sounders U-23 had a great look at taking the lead back. A nice bit of combination play between Lee and Diaz De Leon inside the Highlanders’ box led to a wide open shot for Diaz De Leon. He lined it up and sent a low drive toward the lower corner, but Mitrou got his right hand out just in time to push the shot wide.
Victoria pressed hard for a game winner late in the match earning several corner kicks and sending a slew of crosses into the box. Sounders keeper Edwards was tested time and again, but each time he was able to either collect the ball or push it out for a corner. The Sounders U-23 were able to hold off the Highlanders as the match came to a close to keep the score tied at 1-1.
The Sounders U-23 will wrap up their 2013 regular season with a pair of road matches. On Saturday, July 13th, they will head to Gordon Field Park to take on the Kitsap Pumas at 7:00 p.m. Then on Tuesday, July 16th, the Sounders travel to SouthRidge High School for their third meeting with the Portland Timbers U-23. For more information, including league standings and match recaps, visit SoundersU23.com.
SFC – Mauricio Diaz De Leon - 29’
Victoria – Gavin Barrett – 68’ (Brett Levis)
Sounders FC U-23 – Earl Edwards, Mark Lee, Chase Hanson, Chris Brundage, Mike Gallagher, Jordan Schweitzer, Michael Uyehara (Max Estrada, 72’), Joshua Phillips (Balin Larson, 88’), Luis Esteves (Steve Mohn, 45’), Mauricio Diaz DeLeon, Murphy Campbell.
Substitutes Not Used: - Jacob Feener, Michael Harris, Austin Sweeney, Miles Byass.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15; FOULS: 14; OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 5.
Victoria Highlanders – Elliott Mitrou, Andrew Ravenhill (Sahil Sandhu, 90)’, Tyler Hughes, Ryan Ashlee, Kalen Scott, Riley O’Neill, Garett Longdon (Gavin Barrett, 45’), Brett Levis, Craig Gorman (Wes Barrett, 45’), Sam Prette (Cam Stokes, 45’), Blair Sturrock.
Substitutes Not Used: Joel Wilson, Gain Barrett, Wes Barrett, Jordie Hughes, Cam Stokes, Jermelle Campbell.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 5.
SFC – Josh Phillips (caution) 5’
Victoria – Gavin Barrett (caution) 47’
Referee: Chipalo Street
Referee's Assistants: Ian Johnson, Chris Turner
4th Official: none
Time of Game: 2:00 p.m. PST
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial