The Vancouver Whitecaps grinded out a complete 1-0 road win against the Chicago Fire, showing that the win in Portland was not a fluke.

The Whitecaps knew they would need a certain number of wins during their current seven-game road stretch in order to guarantee a playoff spot in the MLS Western Conference. And in winning the first two, they are making the case not only for that playoff spot, they are making the case for home-field advantage.

The Whitecaps began the match strong, controlling the pace of play with the ability of Layrea and Raposo on the flanks. Throughout the first 10 minutes, it was all Vancouver.

But Chicago took the first opportunity. Kai Kamara, looking for his 145th goal to tie Landon Donovan on the all-time MLS list, received a great pass between the Whitecaps’ defenders. But the shot, while hard, was simple for Yohei Takeoka to save.

Vancouver would get first blood, again through the front pairing of White and Gauld. Gauld’s run up the right caught the defender flat-footed. His cross into the 6-yard box was looking for White, but goalkeeper Chris Brady and a couple of other Fire defenders were also there.

White slid into the ball, and it was enough to get it over the line. A quick VAR check confirmed the goal and put the Whitecaps up by one in the 19th minute.

White and Gauld continued to find one another throughout the first half. Gauld rounded the keeper and hit one off the post, while White had a number of quality chances.

“They [White and Gauld] are both fantastic players, players that play for the team,” head coach Vanni Sartini said. “I think we need high praise there.”

But despite their best efforts, the score remained 1-0 at the half.

“I think the 1-0 was a little bit of a liar for a result,” Sartini said. “We should have been maybe two or three goals ahead.”

The second half saw Chicago push higher to try and overload the Whitecaps’ midfield.

And for a while, it worked. Chicago turned away from a counterattacking game that had not born much fruit and started to dictate the play.

“We weren’t able to get out of the pressure like we did in the first half, so we had to defend more,” Sartini said.

Sartini brought in Alessandro Schöpf to help reign in the midfield battle, and it helped. The Whitecaps became calmer in possession and were able to hold onto the ball for longer stretches.

“The game was becoming a little hectic because we couldn’t the ball. And when we were winning the ball, we were giving the ball away too much. So that’s the reason why we put Alessandro in. We wanted to have our midfielders or guys that can keep the ball: him, Pedro [Vite] and Sebastian [Berhalter]. Sacrificing a little bit, the possibility to go and counterattack with Ali [Ahmed],” Sartini said.

The game became one of keep-away for the Whitecaps as they looked to grind it out to the final whistle.

And with that, the one goal in the first half was all that was needed to capture three points. Not as easy as it could have been, but they held on for two road wins in a row for the first time since beating Portland and San Jose back-to-back in August 2018.

“If you want to become a top team, we need quality and we need character,” the head coach said. “And today, we had massive quality in the first half and massive character in the second.”

Changing the record book

With his goal tonight, White became only the second Whitecap in their MLS history to score at least 10 goals in multiple seasons.

For his part though, White was unfazed.

“Personally I’m not too concerned with records,” the American striker said. “I’m more concerned with helping the team win.”

Camilo Sanvezzo scored 12 goals in 2011 and had 22 goals in 2013, enough to win him the MLS Golden Boot.

Gauld also recorded his 23rd assist for the Whitecaps, the most of any player in their MLS history.

Up next

It is a quick turnaround as the Whitecaps head to further east to take on New York City. Kickoff is early, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2.