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Whitecaps, Charlotte FC tie 1-1 in Coachella Valley Invitational

Kerwin Vargas scored for Charlotte FC and Simon Becher replied for the Vancouver Whitecaps as both sides played to a 1-1 draw in their second match at the 2023 Coachella Valley Invitational on Saturday at Empire Polo Club.

Four minutes in, Charlotte had the first chance to score as Kerwin Vargas's free kick effort hit the side netting and out for a Whitecaps goal kick.

The Caps followed with a couple chances of their own in the 19th minute, with Javain Brown and Russell Teibert both having their attempts at goal blocked.

Five minutes later, Cristian Dajome went down in the box after taking contact from a Charlotte FC defender but the referee didn't award a penalty kick for Vancouver.

The Caps continued to come close to opening the scoring, as Brian White controlled a cross from Teibert in the box, but the striker was unable to get a shot off.

Shortly after, Tristan Blackmon prevented Charlotte from grabbing the lead, blocking a shot toward goal and clearing it out of the box to keep the match scoreless.

Just before the end of the first period — the match consisted of three 45-minute periods — Dajome saw his shot in the box saved by Charlotte goalkeeper George Marks, with the rebound falling to White but his effort was also parried away.

Fast forward to the 60th minute in the second period, Charlotte midfielder Brandt Bronico received a second yellow card and a subsequent red card. The match would continue being played 11 against 11 as Charlotte brought on substitute Harrison Afful.

The Caps had another chance four minutes later, as Julian Gressel played a short corner to Luís Martins, who's ensuing cross almost found the head of Blackmon.

A couple minutes later, Vargas's deflected cross found its way toward the Caps' goal and into the net, giving Charlotte the 1-0 advantage.

The Blue and White almost came through with an immediate response, as Gressel's low cross into the six-yard box went untouched.

Following a full round of changes, the Caps had a great chance through a counterattack conducted by Kamron Habibullah and Sebastian Berhalter, which led to a cross from Levonte Johnson that found Simon Becher. The striker saw his deflected effort saved but the play was called offside.

In the 85th minute, the Caps got their reward for their high press. After Ali Ahmed played him in behind the Charlotte backline, Becher tried to pass the ball across the field but his attempt was blocked and fell right into his path to have a strike at goal, beating Charlotte goalkeeper Marks to tie the match at 1-1.

The teams would go into the final 45-minute period tied 1-1, but the Caps would continue threatening the Charlotte backline in the hopes of finding the go-ahead goal.

In the 97th minute, Mathias Laborda played a through ball in behind to Johnson and whipped a cross into Becher, who's shot was parried away into the path of Pedro Vite but his followup was also saved. In the 113th minute, Ryan Raposo came close to giving the Caps the lead off a free kick, but saw his effort saved by Charlotte goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega.

A couple minutes later, Becher had a pair of chances to grab his brace. The first saw him head a cross from Laborda wide, while the second was a strike from distance that forced another save from Sisniega.

Charlotte came close to scoring a last-minute winner as a header went just wide of the Caps' goal, but in the end, the match would finish level.

The Blue and White will now set their eyes on their third match of the Invitational on Wednesday against Canadian rivals Toronto FC.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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