VANCOUVER, BC – Uninspiring. Tame. Dull. Would you be considered wrong if you described the Vancouver Whitecaps’ eastern road trip as any of these adjectives? No, not in the slightest. A team with problems so glaring they could be seen even behind closed doors. So surely when a team with the quality and that Toronto FC boasts rolls into BC Place, the Whitecaps’ faithful tend to brace for the worst. Or could this Vancouver winless streak come to an end?
Vancouver Winless Skid Snapped in Victory Over Toronto
Yet, it would be behind closed doors where Vancouver decided to change this narrative, even if it was for one night only. Marc Dos Santos stuck to his identity of playing without an identity, playing a 4-3-1-2, the side’s 7th formation in 10 games. Meanwhile, the Reds stuck to their classic 4-4-1-1, including four changes to the line up from their loss to Montreal.
Vancouver finally breaks the goal drought
It was no secret that Vancouver has had a difficult time finding, and even more so finishing scoring chances. Their last goal coming close to 400 minutes ago, with Dajome’s second of the MLS is Back tournament.
Four full games and some 16 minutes later, the Whitecaps were back on the score sheet. Flying through the BC Place air was none other than Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver’s (supposedly) prolific big off season pick up. Despite having more missed penalties than goals for his new club, El Tanque finally opened his account with his new club.
A well worked 20 plus pass attack ended with Ali Adnan swinging in a cross right down danger alley for Westberg. A well taken diving header off the bounce saw the Whitecaps take the lead. Their efforts were quickly wiped out by a Jonathan Osorio equalizer, copying his childhood friend with a back door header in the 25th. Poor defending on the edge of the box by Vancouver allowed the game to be 1-1 heading into the break.
You always remember your first
An impressive first half for Vancouver’s academy product Michael Baldisimo, with the 20 year old leading the team in tackles and passes in the centre of the park. He capped off his second career MLS with his first goal for Vancouver, a half volley from 25 yards. A blocked free kick fell straight to the young Canadian, who took a touch and rifled it past Westberg in the 56th.
Despite the run of play, Toronto found themselves behind. Alejandro Pozuelo soon changed that. It was poor defending around the box from Vancouver that allowed Piatti to whip in a pin point accurate ball right onto the head of Pozuelo that had to fend off Andy Rose for the finish.
That lead would stand for just six minutes, as a substitute Jake Nerwinski managed get onto the end of a cross from Rose and slid home the eventual game winner. That finish was Nerwinski’s second of the year, tying him for the most on the Whitecaps in 2020. The American right back was brought on for Eric Godoy, who made his first appearance of the season as he was eased back into the swing of things coming off a knee injury.
The start of something bigger for Vancouver?
After the final whistle blew and Vancouver wrapped up an uplifting three point performance, Marc Dos Santos said there is more in the Whitecap’s locker.
“It was a win, a fight and commitment and guys doing things with passion, but it wasn’t very good. We have to grow with the ball, if we do we will have even more opportunities to score. I think the margin to win is so high, and to do that while you win is important.” – Marc Dos Santos
It was far from pretty. It was far from good even. However, Saturday night was a step in the right direction for Vancouver. An emerging potential fix in the midfield has been found with Michael Baldisimo, and potentially a formation worth testing out again with the 4-3-1-2.
For Toronto, some serious questions have to be asked after losing two straight. Greg Vanney’s side are back at it in just a few days on Wednesday in Montreal, maybe going back with Altidore and Bradley in the starting 11. In terms of Saturday’s victors, Vancouver have some time off before back to back home matches against the Impact over the coming weeks.