VANCOUVER, BC – The Vancouver Whitecaps came away from their trip to Oregon with a full three points on Saturday, thanks to some Ryan Gauld heroics in Providence Park. With this win, the ‘Caps now sit in seventh place with a game in hand.
Whitecaps’ Ryan Gauld Rolls Over Timbers In Cascadia Cup Clash
Cascadian Derby Does Not Disappoint
It’s was always going to be a feisty affair in Portland when the Whitecaps come to visit. The game started in electric fashion, with Ryan Gauld getting his seventh goal of the competition just 13 minutes into the first half. The Caps would double their advantage in the 36-minute, this time with Gauld being the provider for Brian White. They got their third of the night off another Ryan Gauld penalty, scoring three goals at Providence Park for the first time since October 2021.
For Caps head coach Vanni Sartini, it was his second victory in Portland, a place where he has only lost once in his last four visits. “What we do well is probably that, [well], I love rivalries” explained Sartini to the press post-match. “I love to come here and shut up the stadium at the end. Our supporters were massive, massive today, always singing and we felt them, and we felt a little like we were at BC place”.
“And talking tactically, I think the way we defend is very space oriented, and not giving to the man, so not leaving a lot of space for the teams to play. That’s the reason why we had a good record against them, but everything starts with intensity, and last time when we came here we lost, and we lost because we weren’t intense enough. Today, I think from minute one, we showed who we were.”
But the ‘Caps did not make it easy on themselves, however, as they conceded two goals to make the game even nervier towards the end. “We were a little bit naive on the right side to make them play that [Dairon Asprilla] ball through and they scored [to make it 3-2]” admitted Sartini, “but I think that [despite that] the win is very well deserved”.
Vancouver are now first in the Cascadia Cup standings, with only one game left against Seattle in October.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 27, 2023
Ryan Gauld: MVP Candidate?
Ryan Gauld’s quality was something that was never in doubt, despite having a slow start to the MLS year. But since the beginning of summer, the Scot has been in a level of his own. He has produced 13 goal contributions (8G/5A) since the start of June, a league high. Gauld has been so integral to the Whitecaps’ recent successes, that when he doesn’t start, the Whitecaps are simply not the same. He only came off the bench against San Jose in the last half-hour, after the ‘Caps had been struggling to score despite having numerous chances. Vancouver went on to lose that match 1-0.
But in this game, he showed the fans in the stadium once again why he is worth every bit of that DP tag. His intensity to hunt down the ball allowed him to tap in the first goal after a shot got deflected off Brian White and into his path. Later, he pulled out a ridiculous cross from virtually the end-line to set-up White for the second. And then he stepped up and dispatched his penalty in typical fashion, putting it past Timbers keeper David Bingham even though he went the right way for his second brace in his last three MLS matches.
“When we starts to go, he is a machine that feeds himself” described Sartini to media after the match. “And I think in the last two months, you can put him in the same category as the MVP’s of the league”.
“His qualities are outstanding, his commitment to his team is outstanding, and that’s the most important thing for us. Its like the fact that he is a DP not only when he has the ball, when he doesn’t have the ball, he is a DP in the way that he gets the information and he does everything that the team wants from him. So we are very happy that he is doing well”.
If Gauld can continue in this vein of form, the Whitecaps might be able to conjure up a suprise package in this year’s play-off race and competition.
With two goals and an assist in tonight’s road win, @WhitecapsFC‘s Ryan Gauld has now produced a league-high 13 goal contributions (eight goals, five assists) in @MLS play since the start of June. pic.twitter.com/TcdpTWsTfK
— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) August 27, 2023
Long Road Ahead for ‘Caps
This match against Portland was just the curtain-raiser in what will be a long seven match run of away games for the Whitecaps. September 30th against D.C. United will be their next home match. Between now and then, they will face Chicago, NYCFC, Toronto FC, Houston, RSL and Colorado, all away from home.
In prepping for this taxing run, however, Sartini’s mind is clear. “[These games] they’re winable games, but they’re also very hard to win” explained Sartini. “I think the approach is to play the guys that are ready to go”.
“We are lucky to have 18, maybe 19 starters, I would say, so we will not think, for the lineup in Chicago, about New York and the future. We need to approach it game by game”.
The Whitecaps are in a favourable position in the standings, only three points off third place with a game in hand. But at the same time, they are also only three points off 10th place, outside the playoffs. So these next six games will play a crucial part in if the Whitecaps will not only have a home-leg for the first round of the playoffs, but if they can make it into the playoffs as well.
After their victory over Portland, Whitecaps are now 3 points away from 3rd place with a game in hand
They face Chicago, who are 9th in the EC, NYCFC, who are 3rd last and TFC, who are last, in their next three
— Felipe Vallejo (@FelipeV_FC) August 27, 2023
Aug 26, 2023; Portland, Oregon, USA; Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld (25) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal in the first half against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports