The Vancouver Whitecaps took on Toronto FC in MLS play on Sunday. Here’s our match report from that one.
They left it late, but the Vancouver Whitecaps are back in the winning column once again.
Riding a three-game losing streak heading into an all-Canadian clash with Toronto FC at BC Place on Sunday, the ‘Caps came into this game desperately needing a win, sitting at the bottom of the MLS standings.
Coming off of a surprise bye week, which came due to the Seattle Sounders’ participation in the CONCACAF Champions League final, it was hoped that the ‘Caps had come into this Toronto game having used that time off to hit the reset button.
Especially given the run that they were on heading into it, where they just couldn’t seem to find a result in MLS play, you felt like if there was a game that was going to be a must-win one on their schedule, this clash against a wounded Toronto FC team would be the one they’d circle with that distinction.
And although they certainly had to battle to make it happen, surviving a penalty miss and a questionable no-goal call that certainly will have TFC talking, they ultimately got the win over the line late on, coming through a late winner from Tosaint Ricketts.
Thanks to that, it’s hoped that will give them some momentum ahead of the team’s next game, which is a big one, as they play host to Canadian Premier League side Valour FC in the preliminary round of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday.
Of course, with that game being a one-off elimination tally, form will mean nothing there, as they’ll know from past tournaments, but some form is better than no form, so they’ll bank on that potentially being in their favour on Wednesday.
“It was very good to give them a boost of confidence and to try to have this next game,” Whitecaps head coach, Vanni Sartini noted afterwards. “And the most important thing is three points.”
Speaking of that form, the ‘Caps would nearly get things off and running right away, as Deiber Caicedo did well to fashion up space for himself to grab a shot from inside the box, but his low attempt would be saved nicely by Toronto’s Alex Bono, who managed to get down quickly to the effort.
Then, after a bit of a quiet period, the ‘Caps would have another dangerous look at goal in the 27th minute, as Caicedo managed to play Ryan Gauld in behind the TFC defence, and he’d get a good shot off, one that would just be kept out by Bono.
At the other end, TFC then managed to pick up their first clearcut chance of the game in the 30th minute, as Michael Bradley found himself in a nice pocket at the edge of the ‘Caps box, and unleashed a good strike, although he’d send it just wide of the mark.
And through the pressure that they’d start to build after that chance, TFC would come close to breaking open the score in the 33rd minute. After some nice interplay, the ball would hit the hand of the ‘Caps Ranko Veselinovic in the box, and although the handball wasn’t called right away, it would be eventually flagged down after a VAR check.
From there, up stepped Alejandro Pozuelo to take it, but surprisingly, especially given his penalty record in MLS, he’d be unable to convert, partly thanks to a strong save from Vancouver’s Thomas Hasal, who dove correctly to his left to make the stop.
Riding the boost from that, the ‘Caps would then finish the half strongly, giving them hope they could grab a goal before the 45 minutes were up.
First, Deiber Caicedo nearly scored a thumping goal in the 40th minute, as he unleashed a powerful volley after a nice Javain Brown cutback, but his shot would be nicely saved by Bono. Then, less than a minute later, his teammate, Brian White, would also get the chance to unleash a strike from a similarly good area at the edge of the box, as well, but his shot would lack convection, allowing Bono to make an easy stop.
Having weathered that, however, TFC would nearly get the last laugh before half time, as Jayden Nelson was nicely teed up by Pozuelo inside the box, and Nelson would get a great shot off, but his attempt would just graze off the crossbar and fly over, coming oh so close to putting his team ahead.
Other than that, however, that’d be all that the first half had to offer, leaving both teams to ponder what went on through the first 45, as they got set for the rest of the game.
And having done that, the ‘Caps would come out strong to start the second stanza, nearly grabbing the lead right at the 46th minute. After some nice interplay down the right-hand side, the ball would fall to Cristian Dajome inside the TFC box, and he’d have time to settle down the ball and strike it, but he’d send his shot well wide on his left, despite being in what seemed like a glorious position to bury home.
Right after that, Gauld would then get a chance off a header, as he’d loop the ball towards goal from what seemed like a non-threatening position, until it’d bounce off the crossbar twice, much to the relief of Bono.
Looking to get the momentum back in their favour, TFC would get a nice look at goal in the 52nd minute, where DeAndre Kerr would do well to open up a shot for himself on his left, and he’d get good power behind the shot, but not the accuracy, making it an easy stop for Hasal in the ‘Caps goal.
Continuing a strong start to the half for them, however, the ‘Caps would get another good look at goal in the 55th minute. This time, a nice ball from Caicedo would find White in a great position in the ‘Caps box, and he’d manage to make great contact on his header, although his accuracy would be lacking, leaving it to drag wide. Right after, Dajome would get another good look at the edge of the box in the 58th minute, and he’d unleash a rocket, one that would sail just over TFC’s net, keeping the game level.
But then, TFC nearly had a game-changing moment right in the 65th minute. After a tidy attack down the right side, the ball would fall to Kerr, who managed to put his head up and find Pozuelo with a nice cutback, with Pozuelo seemingly having the whole net to shoot at.
And there, he’d wind up his leg for what appeared to be a sure goal, picking the corner.
That is, of course, if not for Hasal, who’d get across the goal quickly, getting down for a fantastic stop, one that’d keep his team in the game.
But then, on the subsequent rebound, everything went wrong for the ‘Caps. First, they’d get a lucky break, as despite Jayden Nelson scoring what appeared to be a good goal upon second viewing in a 50-50 with Hasal, the referee would call it off, with a foul on the field being the call.
But while that was a huge relief for the ‘Caps, Hasal would actually appear to injure his finger against Nelson’s shot on the play, leaving him to have to exit the game, which was a huge blow for his team.
His replacement, Cody Cropper, would get called into action nearly immediately, too, as Jordan Perruzza would get a nice header off from a short distance, seemingly scoring if it wasn’t for a great stop from Cropper, who showed no signs of cold feet after coming in.
And from there, that’d pave the way for the ‘Caps to nab a late winner, right in the 90th minute of 90.
After a great run from Lucas Cavallini, he’d manage to find Tosaint Ricketts wide open at the edge of the goalmouth, and the ‘Caps veteran striker would make no mistake with the chance, slotting home for a huge goal for his side.
With that in their back pocket, that’d allow them to cruise to victory, one that they badly needed, allowing them to slowly begin their quest to get their campaign back on track.
“It’s huge,” Ricketts said of the win.”Our home form has been great dating back to last year. We get results at home and we continue to get results at home. With this four-game, now three-game home stretch, this is our time to make up ground, to get closer to that playoff line.”
Now, however, if they’re to really get their season back on the wheels, a crucial week lies ahead of them, one where they must find a way to capture any sort of momentum that a win like this can give them.
Having endured a tough start, picking up a run of wins could be exactly what the doctor ordered for them, allowing them to rescue their campaign.
“We could have scored a few, they could have capitalized on some but when you get a win like that, it kind of helps the team out a lot,” ‘Caps defender, Jake Nerwinski, added. “Because maybe we didn’t play our best today and maybe we didn’t capitalize on a lot of chances, but to still come away with three points, and a clean sheet is huge, and we’re going to build off that.”
Player of the Match: Thomas Hasal
The game might not have ended the way that he would’ve liked, given that he had to leave the game with a hand injury, but until that happened, it was a dream day for Hasal, who made several game-changing stops for this ‘Caps team.
So hopefully for the ‘Caps, Hasal’s status is nothing too serious, because if not, it would be a tough loss for his team, who have certainly been happy with his ever-improving play in his first full season as a starter.
Now, the ‘Caps will have a short turnaround ahead of their next game, that crucial clash against Valour, which comes back at BC Place in just a few days’ time.
There, it very well might be the ‘Caps first real must-win game of the campaign, especially given their history in the Canadian Championship, of which they’re trying to put behind them this year.
So ahead of then, it’ll be important for the ‘Caps to regroup and keep up the momentum from this win, and bring into their next match, helping them avoid any further heartbreak.
As they look to get their campaign back on track, that’s crucial, especially as they reach the crux of their campaign, which they won’t want to have come off the rails before it gets started.
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Valour FC, Wednesday, May 11th, 19:00 PDT, 22:00 EDT (BC Place, Vancouver)