The Vancouver Whitecaps looked to extend their momentum as they stepped onto the pitch in The House That Jeter Built.
The Whitecaps didn’t home run on Saturday afternoon. But they did hit an RBI as they managed to get themselves a point. That is seven points out of a possible nine in the first three games of this mammoth road trip. That isn’t too shabby. It wasn’t a masterpiece of a performance but it was a good set for the Whitecaps and some instruments need to be tuned but the playoff push tour is off to a good start.
What we learned
- Ryan Gauld continues to be red hot. The Flying Scotsman got his tenth goal of the season with his 60th-minute penalty kick. It is the first time he has hit the double-digit mark in goals in his career. Both he and Brian White lead the Whitecaps with 10 goals each. Once again, the Scottish Messi was everywhere: In attack, in midfield and in the defence.
- Gauld has never missed a penalty with the Whitecaps. I decided to take a look to see if Gauld has missed penalties in his career. It turns out he has and it has been a while since he missed one. Gauld has missed two penalty kicks in his career and both were in his final season with Farense. He missed from the spot on October 4, 2020, in a 3-2 loss to Benfica and missed on March 21, 2021, in a 1-0 win over Boavista according to Transfermarkt. Counting Saturday’s goal, Gauld is now 15 for 17 from the spot in his career.
- Pedro Vite had a good game. He looked good defensively and made some solid passes. It is nice to see the young Ecuadorian continue to impress. According to FotMob, he completed 28 out of his 40 passes.
- Mathias Laborda was the freshest player to start in the game but he looked like he was gassed. He was making some really poor passes as if he pressed the wrong button on his controller. Laborda looked pretty suspect defending and he was way too high up the pitch when Monsef Bakrar scored his goal that gave New York City the lead. But to be fair to Laborda, Ranko Veselinović forgot to press the tackle button. Also, Yohei Takaoka did his best Roberto Luongo impression there. As Lorenzo from A Bronx Tale said: “Sometimes in the heat of passion, the little head tells the big head what to do, and the big head should think twice about what you are doing.” That sums up Laborda on Saturday.
- Sam Adekugbe only managed to play 56 minutes before coming off for Ryan Raposo. He wasn’t bad as he looked decent defensively, made some good runs and tried to create offence. It would be nice to see him get more minutes and start but it seems he isn’t up to speed yet.
- Tristan Blackmon looked like a wall for most of the second half. In the Whitecaps’ own 18-yard box, he made some smart tackles, clearances and interceptions.
Stat of the match
Yes, the rest of the league doesn’t pay much attention to Vancouver but there is no excuse for Gauld not to be in the MLS MVP conversation.
What was said
Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini was content with the draw given the circumstances.
“It’s very hot, the pitch is very small, they were pushing a lot,” he said. “I think we held our ground very well and the tie is deserved.”I feel for their fans…they are so far away…”It’s very hot, the pitch is very small, they were pushing a lot,” he said. “I think we held our ground very well and the tie is deserved.”
“I asked him about the team playing in Yankee Stadium and how he felt about NYCFC still playing there,” said Sartini. “It is an iconic stadium and I am happy that I got to be in Yankee Stadium but it is for a different sport…Teams often complain about the turf at BC Place and it is what it is.”
Gauld was pleased with scoring his tenth goal of the season and getting a point.
“I set a target for myself to get into double digits and we’re happy with taking seven points out of a possible nine,” he said.
He also talked about the team’s mindset.
“Something the group has really improved on is resilience,” said Gauld.
Of course, Gauld was asked about playing in Yankee Stadium.
“It wasn’t fun,” he said. “The pitch was too small, the grass was poor…but it is what it is.”
Take me out to the ball game
It really is terrible for NYCFC and MLS that Yankee Stadium is still being used for soccer. It was only meant to be temporary. Luckily, it seems like NYCFC is getting a new stadium at Willes Point in Queens and if all goes to plan, it should be ready for the 2027 season.
The pitch looked awful, even on TV. It was so hard to take the game seriously. I can’t believe Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo and David Villa ended their storied careers playing in a baseball stadium. Now imagine Lionel Messi playing on it.
This week in MLS refereeing
Pierre-Luc Lauziere also missed Brian White committing a foul just before Gauld was taken down in the box. NYCFC and Whitecaps players were as angry as Yankees fans on Twitter complaining about Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman during the game. MLS refereeing at its finest.
This was…a match
MLS is full of chaos and if you like chaos, this match was for you. But this match felt sluggish and boring at times. Truly one of the MLS games of all time.
Not what you want from a Designated Player
Sergio Córdova should have buried that late second-half chance but he was offside by a hair. Now to make the Fernando Torres comparison work, he needs to, miss an open goal, score the winning goal that sends the Whitecaps to the MLS Cup Final (by rounding the goalkeeper) and dye his hair blonde.
The Whitecaps are unbeaten in their last five road matches, including Leagues Cup and are unbeaten against Eastern Conference opponents this season with three wins and two draws.
After the international break, the Whitecaps travel to The Six to face Toronto FC on September 16.