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Whitecaps tie Crystal Palace 2-2 in friendly

Vancouver Whitecaps' Erik Hurtado, left, and Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney vie for the ball during the first half of an international friendly soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday July 19, 2016.
Vancouver Whitecaps' Erik Hurtado, left, and Crystal Palace's Damien Delaney vie for the ball during the first half of an international friendly soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday July 19, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps signed David Edgar last week to help solidify their leaky defence.

The Canadian international did his job in 60 minutes of work on Tuesday night, and added a bonus at the other end of the pitch.

Edgar opened the scoring in his Whitecaps’ debut and was subbed off with Vancouver up 1-0 in what would eventually turn into an exciting 2-2 friendly draw with Crystal Palace of the English Premier League.

The Whitecaps have surrendered 35 goals in 21 matches in 2015-16 — tied for the most in Major League Soccer — after giving up just 36 in 34 outings last season, and it’s hoped that Edgar’s calming influence can help plug some holes.

“It felt good to be out there and get match sharpness,” said the 29-year-old centre back, who played more than 200 games in England before coming to MLS. “I actually felt quite up to pace.”

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Kendall Waston bagged the tying goal for Vancouver after Fraizer Campbell scored twice to put Palace ahead 2-1.

Waston rose to meet a cross from Brett Levis, who was just signed for the match from Whitecaps FC 2, and headed past Julian Speroni in the Palace goal for the equalizer in the 78th minute.

“I enjoyed watching the game,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. “I said to the guys: ‘Go and smile, go and work as hard as you can and go do the correct things you need to do — the fundamentals in football against a top team.'”

Up 1-0 in the second half after Edgar’s deflected header off a short corner in the 50th minute, the Whitecaps made eight substitutions, and Palace struck moments later when Andros Townsend sent a ball in that Campbell redirected past Marco Carducci in the 62nd.

The Palace striker then steered a pass home from Connor Wickham in the 66th to give the visitors, who are getting ready for their season, a 2-1 lead.

Vancouver — which sits 8-8-5 in MLS and rested some of its veterans with a game at Houston on tap this weekend — came close in the 69th minute when 15-year-old Alphonso Davies played a ball into the box, but Christian Bolanos saw his shot blocked by a defender.

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Palace manager Alan Pardew said before the match he was excited to see Davies in person after making his MLS debut over the weekend, and the teenager didn’t disappoint.

“It’s important we look after him because he is a special talent, but he’s a young boy,” said Robinson. “I’ve seen so many talented young footballers not fulfil their potential. We’ve got to make sure we do that.

“When he plays like that, he’s a joy to watch.”

Masato Kudo, in his third game back from a broken jaw, had another chance in the 72nd, but Speroni made a great save off a Vancouver corner.

The Whitecaps kept coming after Waston equalized and looked the most likely side to grab a winner, with Kudo coming close again on two late opportunities.

Palace, which was taking part in the final game of its three-match exhibition tour of North America, played in front a crowd of 35,061 in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over FC Cincinnati of the second-tier NASL — a record attendance for a soccer game in Ohio — but a much smaller gathering of 14,788 showed up to B.C. Place Stadium.

Most of the vocal support that provides the atmosphere in MLS stayed away, while a small contingent of Palace supporters sang in spurts throughout the night.

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“We enjoyed the game,” said Palace assistant manager Keith Millen, whose team was experimenting with a 3-5-2 formation. “Some of the goals weren’t great from our point of view, but for the fans I’m pleased there were some goals.”

The south London club fell 2-1 to Manchester United in May’s FA Cup final after finishing 15th in the Premier League to secure a fourth straight season in English football’s top division.

Palace brought its two biggest summer signings on the trip, including Townsend, a winger who joined from Newcastle United for a club-record 13 million pounds, and defender James Tomkins, recently added from West Ham United for 10 million pounds. Townsend started for the visitors, but Tomkins didn’t dress.

Palace didn’t have five players who took part in the recent European Championships for any of its pre-season games on this side of the Atlantic — goalkeeper Steve Mananda and midfielder Yohan Cabaye of France, and the Welsh trio of No. 1 goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey and midfielders Johnny Williams and Joe Ledley.

Palace opens the Premier League season on Aug. 13 at home against West Bromich Albion.

 

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