Whitecaps come home with 2-1 win over LAFC

Vancouver Whitecaps Cristian Dajome, above, and Los Angeles FC’s Mamadou Fall collide during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver on Saturday, August 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Darryl Dyck

Vancouver Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos knows there is work to be done – running for an MLS playoff berth and reconnecting with fans while doing it.

His club took a good leap forward on both counts on Saturday after coming back from behind to defeat Los Angeles FC 2-1, exactly 539 days after their last game in front of fans at BC Place.

After the final whistle, players and supporters gathered to sing the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me”.

“We have to win back our fans,” Dos Santos said. “We have been far from them. We struggled. Victory is important just to get them back.

In his fourth game since his acquisition in late July, attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld managed a Ryan Raposo cross past LAFC goalkeeper Tomas Romero in the 89th minute to secure the victory.

“As we started out (at home) it was pretty good,” Gauld said. “The most important thing is not that I managed to score, it’s the three points. The goal is a bit of an added bonus.

Gauld came to the Whitecaps with the potential to make a difference on offense. He won last Wednesday, contributing to a 2-1 road victory over expansion team Austin FC. The 25-year-old was involved in both goals on Saturday.

Gauld believed he had scored in the 60th minute when he converted to an open net after a shot from forward Brian White hit the crossbar and ricocheted down. After video review, the goal was awarded to White when it was determined that the ball fell inside the goal line.

Acquired from the New York Red Bulls in June, it was White’s third goal of the year and second in the last two games.

For a second consecutive game, the Whitecaps (5-7-8) erased a 1-0 deficit at halftime. In the first-half stoppage time, Diego Rossi scored LAFC’s lone goal (6-9-5) from a penalty after defenseman Javain Brown mingled with LA’s Brian Rodriguez.

In the first half, the Whitecaps were dominated by a 5-2 margin, but maintained a relatively even number of possessions. Their best offensive pressure came after six minutes, when Deiber Caicedo got three corner kicks in under two minutes.

The Whitecaps made two halftime substitutions, bringing in Gauld, who is yet to reach his full fitness level, along with midfielder Michael Baldisimo.

The last shots on goal were 7-3 for LAFC.

The victory comes just three days after this road victory over Austin.

“It was difficult, the recovery process,” Dos Santos said. “Thursday we arrived from a flight at 5 am, I felt destroyed on Friday. I felt really tired, so imagine the players. I don’t run like them. ”

The ‘Caps entered Saturday’s game undefeated since July 7. They extended this streak to eight games tied (3-0-5). The latest win brought them three points closer to seventh-seeded San Jose Earthquakes, which currently holds last place in the MLS Western Conference playoffs.

Vancouver is playing eight of its remaining 14 games at BC Place.

“We were together after the five consecutive losses, so the team becomes a family,” said Dos Santos. “Being on the road was a positive thing for that. If I get anything positive from being on the road, it’s how we came together as a group.

“I like the type of guy we have, amazing characters, very little ego in the locker room. It’s so important if you want to be successful.”

The Whitecaps played their last home game in front of fans on February 29, 2020 – a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they have played the remainder of their home games this season at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, where they amassed a 3-3-2 record.

NOTES: Special guests at the game included Dr Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, 350 frontline workers and 21 Olympic athletes returning from Tokyo and staff from the gold medalist women’s football team.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 21, 2021.

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