VANCOUVER — Kianz Froese scored in the first half Wednesday as the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated C.D. Olympia 1-0 in CONCACAF Champions League play.
The 19-year-old Canadian midfielder poked a shot home in the 42nd minute that Olympia goalkeeper Noel Valladeres could only get a piece of before it looped up and over a helpless defender. Vancouver’s Darren Mattocks looked certain to score seconds earlier, but the ball got caught up in his feet before Froese was there to pounce.
With the crowd at B.C. Place Stadium still buzzing, Mattocks then had a great chance to make it 2-0 just before halftime only to see his effort from close range go over the crossbar.
The victory against the Honduran side moves the Whitecaps (1-0-1) into a tie on points with the Seattle Sounders (1-1-1) atop Group F and sets up a crucial match between the clubs next week at CenturyLink Field.
The Whitecaps, who drew Seattle 0-0 at home to open their first foray into the competition, then round out group play against Olympia (1-2-0) on Oct. 22 in Tegucigalpa.
The winner of each of the eight three-team groups advances to next year’s knockout stage, which is part of qualifying for the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup.
Content to kill time off at almost every opportunity when the score was tied, Olympia came out with renewed vigour in the second half.
Roger Rojas blasted a shot over the bar in the 78th minute before Whitecaps ‘keeper Paolo Tornaghi gobbled up a shot from Michael Chirinos moments later.
With Olympia pressing, Robert Earnshaw nearly had Vancouver’s second of the night in the 90th minute, but his attempted chip shot hit Valladeres in the face, and Marco Bustos’ follow up flashed.
Sitting first overall in MLS with a league match against Seattle set for Saturday, the Whitecaps went with a mostly inexperienced lineup that included just two regulars — defender Kendall Waston and midfielder Matias Laba.
There wasn’t much action in the first half prior to Froese’s breakthrough. Olympia’s Ever Alvarado saw his header skim the top of the crossbar off a free kick from Oscar Salas in the 11th minute after Earnshaw nearly connected on a bicycle kick moments earlier at the other end.
Notes: Vancouver has already qualified for the 2016 Champions League after winning the Amway Canadian Championship last month. … Laba is suspended for Saturday’s match. … Wednesday’s attendance was 15,491.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press