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Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake Post-Match Analysis

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Real Salt Lake on September 23, 2023

SANDY, UTAH – It was another back-to-back defeat for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of a Jefferson Savarino-less Real Salt Lake in Sandy, Utah.  This now makes it the second time the Whitecaps have lost to RSL in the league.

“Soft” Whitecaps Succumb to Real Salt Lake

Whitecaps Starting The Game Strong

It all went according to plan at the beginning for the Whitecaps. Real Salt Lake began the game with possession, but the Whitecaps did well to quell any danger and keep their attack at bay. Then, in the 17-minute, off a well-practiced corner, the ‘Caps took the lead thanks to their leading goal-scorer, Brian White. White now has 12 goals in MLS this season, as well as four assists. He also is now tied for most headed goals in the league (six) with Atlanta United’s Giorgos Giakoumakis. The assist came from his other half in Ryan Gauld, who is invoking his MVP form with ten goals and ten assists in the league this season.

“That was a special [corner-kick], that first one, because we knew that Salt Lake was leaving that area free and it actually came out pretty well,” said head coach Vanni Sartini after the match. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps, that was as good as it was going to get, despite going into the break with the one-goal lead.

Lack in Concentration Costly For ‘Caps

However, it didn’t take long for Real Salt Lake to equalize after half-time. A 40-yard rocket of a free-kick from Brayan Vera incredibly beat Yohei Takaoka, who was punished for cheating to his right. A free-kick from that distance had no right to threaten the goalkeeper, let alone go in, but Vera had other ideas. Then despite the Whitecaps coming close a few times to pulling ahead once more, including some clear opportunities from Ryan Gauld and Simon Becher, it was Real Salt Lake who took the lead mid-way through the second half.

A clever trick from Andres Gomez allowed him to get past Ryan Gauld on the left and whip a dangerous cross in for Justen Glad to latch onto. His headed effort snuck past Takaoka, but Glad got injured as a result of it, getting a bloody nose through a collision with Javain Brown on the follow-through. Thankfully, the RSL captain recovered shortly after, and saw the rest of the game through.

“We’ve been soft” said Sartini in the post-match presser. “At the end, the only guys we can blame is ourselves. When you have three chances to score in front of the net… and we concede from 40 yards and another one that was really easily defendable…you lose”.

“If you want to go to the playoffs, if you want to win games in the playoffs, then its gonna be a fine-margin game [like today], and we need to be better. We need to win”.

Looking Ahead to Colorado

The Whitecaps’ match at Colorado on Wednesday will mark the last game of their seven-game away run. Despite getting 10 points out of their first four matches, they now have zero points in their last two including yesterday’s loss at the America First Field. Colorado’s match will then be vital for the Whitecaps, who currently sit seventh but with a game in hand over the teams in second-to-fifth. This match will be extra important match since, with this being a make-up game, no one else will be playing, meaning that they can rise as high as fourth if they get three points in Colorado.

“It must be an opportunity [to get three points]” remarked Sartini to the media. “If we win, we get points on anyone and then we have three out of four games at home, so it must be an opportunity to make points.”

“I told the guys, ‘I don’t want to see long faces, I want to see angry faces’. I want to see guys that are pissed, that are maybe kicking bottles, maybe using expletives, because of the game, but I want to see guys that are fired up to go Wednesday in Denver and make three points.”

With the Western Conference table so close in the play-off spots, a solitary win could be the difference between getting a favourable play-off draw – or not making them at all. And so the Whitecaps will need to pick themselves up and show their true quality, despite their potential fatigue, if they want to make the best out of their incredible squad.

The game will kick off at 9:39 PM ET (6:39 PM PT) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and it will be televised nationally in Canada on TSN1 and will also be shown in Canada on RDS. Additionally, the game will also be shown on Apple TV.


Photo Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports, of a Ryan Gauld and a Nelson Palacio Headshot, on September 23, 2023.


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