VANCOUVER — Home sweet home, indeed.
Back in front of their fans at B.C. Place for the first time in 539 days, the Vancouver Whitecaps stretched their unbeaten streak to a franchise-tying eight games with a 2-1 win over LAFC on Saturday.
In just his fourth game with the Whitecaps (5-7-8), attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld delivered a thrilling game-winning goal in the 89th minute, igniting the crowd of 11,144.
For the second straight game, the Whitecaps erased a 1-0 halftime deficit. In first-half stoppage time, Diego Rossi scored the lone goal for LAFC (6-9-5) on a penalty after defender Javain Brown got tangled up with LA’s Brian Rodriguez.
In the 60th minute, Brian White brought the Whitecaps level with a shot off the crossbar to beat Los Angeles goalkeeper Tomas Romero. 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.
In the first half, the Whitecaps were outshot by a 5-2 margin but maintained relatively even possession numbers. Their best offensive pressure came six minutes in, when Deiber Caicedo was awarded three corner kicks in the span of less than two minutes.
The Whitecaps made two substitutions at halftime, bringing in Gauld, who is not yet at his full fitness level, as well as midfielder Michael Baldisimo.
Final shots on goal were 7-3 for LAFC.
The Whitecaps played their last home game in front of fans on Feb. 29, 2020 — a 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. They’ve played the rest of their home games at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, where they amassed a 3-3-2 record.
Vancouver came into Saturday’s match unbeaten since July 7. That 2-5 stretch included a 2-2 draw in their only other meeting of the year with LAFC on July 24. In their most recent game last Wednesday, the Whitecaps earned their first road win of the season, also erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit to win 2-1 over expansion Austin FC.
With the win, the Whitecaps moved within three points of the seventh-place San Jose Earthquakes, who currently hold down the final playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference. The club will play eight of its remaining 14 games at B.C. Place.
NOTES: Special guests at the match included provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, 350 frontline workers and 21 returning Olympic athletes from Tokyo and staff members from the gold medal-winning women’s soccer team.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 21, 2021.
The Canadian Press