Whitecaps Earn Three Points After Second Half Surge

by Michael Martinez
Whitecaps DP Ryan Gauld takes a shot on goal.

It was a tale of the two bottom teams as the Whitecaps took on Austin FC at Q2 Stadium on Wednesday. The Whitecaps have been on a run of matches where seven out of nine have ended in a draw. If you want to think even worse, they have only managed one win out of 14. 

The match certainly felt like they would be heading down that path again and nearly cementing themselves at the bottom of the West. Fans have become accustomed to leaving with only one point in hand. No one had any idea how this would turn out. 

This was not the case as the streak was broken!! The Whitecaps leave Austin with all three points giving them a little momentum before heading back home and playing their first match at BC Place.

Lineups:

Vancouver Whitecaps: 4-3-3

Austin FC: 4-3-3

Match Report

Whitecaps winger, Dajome, goes up for a 50/50 ball.

Image via Vancouver Whitecaps FC Twitter

“We believe here,” Whitecaps head coach, Marc Dos Santos, said after the game. “For us to be in the top 7, there are just games that we have to accept the challenge in games, and just go for it, and this was one of those games.”

It was a battle of the bottom dwellers. Because of that, both teams had a lot to prove. Right off the bat it looked as though both teams had a spark we hadn’t seen from either in a while. Both teams provided some great end-to-end action. The Whitecaps would get the first look after a rogue shot went just wide of the post. 

The first 30 minutes was just a back and forth battle of who could get down the pitch to get a shot off. The Whitecaps would show more promise with better chances. In the end, it would be Austin who would deliver the first blow in the 35th minute.

Coming off of a corner kick, Alexander Ring rose to a lovely curled ball in, looping a header into the back post to kickstart the proceedings. It was a well taken corner for Austin, who had certainly held their own through the first half. It was a tough blow for the Whitecaps who had some good chances to score before. 

There were a few chances for both teams after the initial goal, though neither side could open the game up more. The Whitecaps certainly felt like they missed an opportunity to take the lead early but that is just the story of the Whitecaps this season. Although, the second half was a different story. 

Ryan Gauld came on at the start of the second half and took the match by storm. The Whitecaps had a new offensive spark and it all started with our Scottish Messi. In all honesty, the match was not even close after he came on. 

He was immediately setting up chances for the attackers all over the pitch. Thanks to him, the best chance came at the 52nd minute. Gauld whipped in a beautiful corner kick to the back post. After an initial save by the keeper, the ball bounced to Jake Nerwinski who taps in the first goal for the Whitecaps. 

The goal was coming and it was just what the Whitecaps needed to ignite that spark. Ryan Gauld was just the piece that was missing in the first half. By the way the team had started the half, you knew that there would be a possibility of a comeback. Though soon after, Austin would find some life. 

In the 58th minute, Tomas Pochettino would find himself open in a pocket just outside of the box. Fortunately for the Whitecaps, he sailed his shot just wide of the post. Less than a minute later, Jon Gallagher found himself open for a freenheader. Given another lifeline, the Whitecaps see his chance go just wide. 

Austin would continue to lay down the pressure well into the 65th minute. It would be Pochettino again as he dispossessed Teibert in the Whitecaps midfield, launching an Austin counter-attack. He would take a shot from outside of the box, and of course, would once again sail wide. Despite all his strong showing, that seemed to be the theme of the night for the young Argentine.

Soon after it would be the Whitecaps turn to lay down the pressure. Thanks to that pressure, the Whitecaps would find their second of the night. After a perfect run in behind, Gauld would get the ball after a Caicedo through ball. After sliding the ball across the net, Gauld would find White sliding through for the go-ahead goal!

This goal would prove to be huge as not only did it give the Whitecaps the lead, it would also be Gauld’s first MLS assist. Brian White would also get the plaudits as he would break his goal drought. While it may have been a bit lucky, a goal is a goal. It must have felt like lifting a heavy weight off his back. 

It would not stop there either. While there may not have been any more goals, the Whitecaps did not sit back. Gauld continued his rampage through the Austin defense. In the 80th minute he snuck behind the backline again. Although this time he went for the shot. The Austin keeper did well to keep out to keep the Whitecaps’ lead at one. Right after on the subsequent corner, Gauld then whipped in another lovely ball. This time it would be the substitute Ricketts who couldn’t get good contact on the ball.

There were a couple chances for both teams near the end of the match. But ultimately, that would be the end of it. The Whitecaps would end their streak of draws and make it two wins in 15! Or winless in six, whichever way you try to spin it. It may not have been pretty but they were able to claw their way out. They showed exactly what they are capable of. At this point of the season, it’s all any fan can ask for.

Post Match Thoughts

It felt good to see the Whitecaps play an opponent off the pitch. Despite the match stats, I don’t think we’ve seen a Whitecaps team be that dominant in a long time. Maybe since before the MDS era. It was all the more impressive because it was on the road. While Austin are generally a bad team, roughly 52% of MLS games are won by the home team. 

Gauld was the deciding factor for this match. He was tied with Dájome for most chances by a Whitecap. Which is pretty impressive considering he only came on at half time. Seeing somebody be involved in seven in one half felt kind of surreal. While it may not be a guarantee for every match, it certainly felt really great to see a Whitecaps player put the fear into an opponent again.

In front of their home fans for their first time in over a year, the Whitecaps will look to give their fans a homecoming to remember. After two short days, they will be taking on LAFC again. Except this time, it will be at home. This will be one of the most important matches of the season. Not only is it the first match in front of home fans, a result could propel the Whitecaps in the rankings. While the playoffs may be out of reach, it will certainly be fun to watch them try. 

 

The Whitecaps make their long-awaited return to BC Place on Saturday as they host LAFC. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PT. live on TSN and ESPN+. 

 

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