May the fourth is Star Wars day but it also a big day in Vancouver Whitecaps history. On May 4, 1974, the Whitecaps played their first ever match in the NASL and it was a 2-1 loss via the penalty shootout against the San Jose Earthquakes at Empire Field.

Flash forward five decades later and the MLS Whitecaps celebrated 50 years by bringing out alumni and had pre game festivities in and around BC Place. It was a big crowd of 32,465 the most in their MLS era for a home match to date.

What we learned

The Whitecaps kept up their signature press to start the first half. They came out quick like the opening scene of Revenge Of The Sith. They were forcing turnovers and back line of Ranko Veselinovc, Tristan Blackmon and Bjorn Inge Utvik did their jobs with their clearances.

Vancouver moved the ball well. Even Brian White was channeling his Eden Hazard, who knew he had that in him? Fafa Picault’s speed was missed over the last few weeks and he was all over the pitch.

It looked like Ryan Gauld opened the scoring in the 32nd minute but VAR determined there was a handball on Picault. VAR was the story of the first half.

Late in stoppage time, it looked like Picault was clipped from behind. Surely that was a penalty right? VAR said no.

The first one was hard to tell because the angles weren’t good enough. There was also no clear and obvious error. But there was a clear and obvious error on the second one as Picault was basically slewfooted. Brad Marchand would’ve be proud of that. How was that no a pen? Not sure. The fans at BC Place hated referee MArcos DeOlivera and VAR more than Anakin hating on sand. It was outrageous, it was unfair.

The Whitecaps needed to be cleaner in the box as it was clear that they were the better side.

At the end of the half, Austin FC captain Sebastian Druissi ran towards the Whitecaps bench like he wanted to be Yoda taking down the clones. Maybe he was inspired by Kendrick Lamar’s diss tracks on Drake and wanted to show no mercy.

It was a feisty first half.

The second half was mostly played in Austin’s end. Yohei Takaoka wasn’t busy and he could’ve brought out a lawn chair and a book out. He only had to make one save in the game and that was early in the first half

The Whitecaps were doing just about every right. They defended well, made excellent passes and runs from behind…but they couldn’t score a goal.

A lot of credit has to be given to Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver for making some solid saves. Austin’s low block was a tough for the Whitecaps to fully break and the frustrating thing is, Austin looked like they could break any minute. The low block was a sturdy as Beskar and it has been an issue for Vancouver this season.

There were some great chances by Ryan Raposo, (who came on after Sam Adekugbe injured his calf in the first half and looked very impactfu) Gauld and Picault. Even Utvik had a great chance on goal in the second half but was denied by Stuver like how Mace Windu denied Anakin the rank of master. Maybe some Jedi mind tricks would’ve gotten Stuver off his game.

Overall, it was a frustrating result. Out of all the games where you can say: “They should’ve won,” they should’ve won.

Stat of the match

Shots were 24-4 in favour of Vancouver. That was the most they had in a game all season.

What was said

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini was happy with the way his team played but wasn’t happy with the fact they didn’t win.

“I don’t think we should talk about the VAR decision because they’re out of our control,” he said. “So we need to talk about what we’ve done tonight and it’s a fantastic performance. We played very well. We played fantastically and deserved to win. Stuver made two very good saves. we had two big chances… in front of the goal like I don’t know ten times.”

” So the only the finalization was missing and at the end that makes this night a little bit bitter, because you know we clearly deserve three points and we go away with one. But the league is long and we’re on the right path. So, I know, if we keep playing like this, we win games, we win all games.”

I asked him on how his team can break down a low block.

“The low block is an issue against everyone,” said Sartini. “Manchester City against Real Madrid played like 175 minutes against the low blocks and didn’t score. So, I think that it’s a redefinition of a low block. It was like the lowest thing ever. There were like 11 players in the box, so it’s hard to score. But again, we had the chance to do it. We had the chance to do it more than once and we could have done it.”

Ryan Gauld was the only player to speak to the media.

“There’s not actually been that many games since I’ve been here that we’ve kind of control the game like that,” said the Whitecaps captain. “We were just missing the goal really. On another night, we could have won three or four….Yeah, we’re disappointed obviously with the result. We would’ve loved to send everyone home happy. It was a great support tonight and [we] just unfortunately couldn’t get it done.”

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Despite the frustrating draw, there was a lot to be encouraged about. If the Whitecaps continue to play like they did on Saturday night, good things will happen. But of course, finishing is key.

Vancouver plays Cavalry on Tuesday for the first leg of the Canadian Championship quarterfinals in Calgary. Kickoff for that is at 7:30 pm. Then next Saturday, it is off to Los Angeles to play LAFC and that game also begins at 7:30 pm.

The Whitecaps look to build on the momentum from the way they played against Austin. However, things will get tougher with the amount of games being played. But Vancouver must grind it out. Do or do not, there is no try.