VANCOUVER — Brian White had three goals and the Whitecaps' playoff hopes grew brighter Saturday with a 3-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in Vancouver.
The American striker scored in the 26th, 59th and 73rd minutes to tally his first career hat trick.
Deiber Caicedo notched an assist on White's second goal of the night and Ryan Gauld was credited with the helper on his third.
Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau had five saves to collect his third-straight clean sheet for the Whitecaps.
JT Marcinkowski stopped 3-of-6 on-target shots for the Earthquakes (8-11-9).
The victory gives the 'Caps a 9-8-10 record on the season with seven games left to play. Vancouver currently sits a single point below the playoff bar.
The result also put some distance between the Whitecaps and Quakes in the table, with San Jose now four points behind Vancouver as six different clubs battle for the last three post-season berths in the Western Conference.
San Jose maintained 59.8 per cent of the possession across the first half, but the 'Caps controlled much of the play, outshooting the visiting side 17-11, and 6-5 in shots on target.
White's third goal of the night came off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.
Gauld sent a cross sailing into the box where White used his head to rocket it into the bottom-right corner of the San Jose net.
The goal was his ninth of the season, tying a career-high the 25-year-old set while playing for the New York Red Bulls in 2019.
Another set play deep in Quakes territory gave the 'Caps their second strike in the 59th minute.
Mario Lopez fouled Gauld, setting up the kick just outside the penalty area. Caicedo sent a curling ball in and White leapt up from the crowd to send a header into the top-left corner of the net and put the Whitecaps up 2-0.
White's first of the night came in the 26th minute after he slipped a pass to Gauld from the top of the penalty area and the Scottish attacking midfielder went deep before getting off a solid shot.
Marcinkowski made the stop but couldn't control the rebound and the ball popped out to White at the top of the six-yard box and he tapped it in to put Vancouver up 1-0.
Gauld had a prime opportunity early in the game when midfielder Russell Teibert sent him a ball in deep. Gauld blasted a left-footed shot from the right side of the six-yard box but Marcinkowski made the save.
Gauld, the 'Caps newest designated player, had three shots in the first half alone, including two of the team's three shots on target.
The Quakes' most promising chance of the first half came in the 28th minute when Marco Lopez sent a shot skimming over the Whitecaps' net following a corner kick.
Crepeau came into the match riding a 242-minute shutout streak after earning clean sheets in his last two outings.
There was some pushing and shoving in the 54th minute Saturday after the 'Caps 'keeper leapt up and plucked Nathan Cardoso's shot out of the air. Vancouver defender Florian Jungwirth and San Jose's Eric Remedi were both shown the yellow card following the dust-up.
Whitecaps forward Leonard Owusu was cautioned for a bad foul in the 19th minute after taking out Remedi in the midfield. Cardoso received a yellow in the 79th minute for a bad foul on Gauld and his teammate Shea Salinas received a warning for a bad foul in injury time.
The 'Caps will be back in action on Oct. 9 when they visit the Western Conference-leading Seattle Sounders. The Earthquakes are set to host LAFC on Oct. 16.
NOTES: Players from both sides wore "Every Child Matters" patches on their jerseys as the 'Caps recognized Indigenous night. … A crowd of 12,069 took in the game. … The Earthquakes came into Saturday's match unbeaten in eight road games.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2021.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press