Whitecaps punish Rapids 2-1 behind Ryan Gauld brace

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VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC hosted Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night. This was a true six-pointer with both teams just below the playoff line in the Western Conference. The Caps were motivated coming off a 5-2 loss over the weekend. Colorado were shorthanded, with Bryan Acosta and Lucas Esteves suspended. Steven Beitashour and Max Alves started in their place.

Whitecaps punish Rapids 2-1 behind Ryan Gauld brace

The first half was all about the Whitecaps press. It disrupted the Rapids buildup play, and prompted transition play for the visitors. The press led to turnovers and two goals for Ryan Gauld. In the 14th minute, Danny Wilson tried to pass to Steven Beitashour at the end line. Julian Gressel anticipated and intercepted, finding Gauld at the near post top make it 1-0.

Then on 40 minutes, Max Alves found himself surrounded at midfield. He passed back, splitting the center backs Wilson and Gustavo Vallecilla. Gauld got to the ball first, running on goal, and picking out the far bottom corner.ย Gressel had a great chance minutes before with a curling shot from the top of the box.

Colorado’s best sequence came in the 26th minute. Jonathan Lewis, Diego Rubio, and Sam Nicholson played hot potato with the ball inside the box. Eventually Lewis shot over the bar. There were shouts for a penalty with Rubio going down, but there was nothing in the challenge from Sebastian Berhalter. The half ended 2-0.


Vancouver kept it going to start the second half. They played through the lines and pinned Colorado in their own half several times. Gauld could have had a hattrick on 49 minutes, but Steven Beitashour made a great clearance off the line. Beita made multiple defensive plays to keep the score 2-0.

Colorado stabilized things with a double substitution on the hour mark bringing on Michael Barrios and Lalas Abubakar. Vancouver played to the score line, keeping numbers back to defend. The Rapids finally broke through in the 76th. Lewis again got forward and cut inside to shoot. Thomas Hasal gave up a rebound and Gyasi Zardes was there for a tap in.

The Rapids pushed for a tying goal with Lewis electric on the left. He nearly found Michael Barrios for a bicycle kick in the final minutes. Minutes later, he missed a header near the post with open net to score. Zardes hit the post in stoppage time on a header from Ralph Priso. The match ended 2-1.

Three Thoughts:

Gauldfather:ย Ryan Gauld had his best half in months. He was great on the ball, creating chances for others, and in his two goals. If this is the start of a good run of form for him, he could be why Vancouver gets into the playoffs.

When playing out of the back goes wrong: So often for Colorado this year, the game has come down to how well they play out of the back. It was not good enough in the first half. The subs and Vancouver playing more conservative helped. It’s fitting the team wasted so many chances in the final 20 to get a result given how bad the start was.

“Really poor individual mistakes,” was Robin Fraser’s entire laconic answer to what needed to be different.

“I don’t know if it’s communication, concentration, making sure we cut those mistakes out. It’s not like Vancouver’s opening us up, it’s just mistakes. Their two goals come from our mistakes. We miss a couple chances that go in on another day. A game that was certainly winnable,” midfielder Ralph Priso added postgame.

Head above water:ย At the end of the night, Vancouver find themselves in the 7th seed in the MLS Western Conference. Great start and nervous end aside, this was a massive result for the Whitecaps. Seeing the table has to feel good.

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