VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps overcame a weak opening half and scored goals 13 minutes apart late in the game to defeat Austin FC 2-1 Saturday and continue their hunt for a Major League Soccer playoff spot.
Midfielder Deiber Caicedo scored the winning goal in the 83rd minute after defender Erik Godoy, who returned to the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury, tied the game in the 70th.
Midfielder Sebastian Driussi scored in the 45th minute for Austin FC.
“It was a tough game,” said Godoy, who scored his first goal in two seasons. “We were patient with the ball.
“I know I had to wait a while for another goal. I had a lot of injuries to power through. It took me a while to get back into full fitness. I’m just happy to help the team now.”
Defender Florian Jungwirth said the Whitecaps were frustrated after being outplayed most of the first half.
“In the first half we didn’t play well, we didn’t create a lot of chances,” he said. “We played a little slow and a little sloppy.
“We were all pretty upset at halftime. We expected more from ourselves. We talked. We were critical of each other. We knew we had to do better. We came out flying and turned the game around in great style.”
Caicedo, a second-half substitute, put Vancouver ahead after Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver stopped a long shot from Ryan Gauld. Caicedo fired the rebound into the net, bringing the crowd of 9,223 to their feet at BC Place Stadium.
Despite extending their unbeaten streak to a franchise record 10 MLS games, Vancouver (7-7-8) remains just out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with 29 points, one fewer than Real Salt Lake and Portland.
Real Salt Lake beat FC Dallas 3-2 Saturday night.
It also was Vancouver’s fourth consecutive win, tying a franchise record. That improved interim coach Vanni Sartini's record to 2-0 since Marc Dos Santos was fired last week.
“In the first half they outplayed us,” said Santini. “In the second half we did it to them.
“We made a couple of adjustments. They are a team that want to have the ball, they exploit gaps when the other team is not very organized. We made those adjustments. The guys in the second half were flying. I think we deserved the win.”
On Aug. 18, the Whitecaps scored twice in the second half to defeat Austin 2-1 at Q2 Stadium.
“I’m gutted for the guys,” said Austin coach Josh Wolff. “They played really well and from the offensive side executed extremely well in the first half.
“We were unlucky to not score multiple goals in the first half and even in the second half. It was there for us to take. I’m really disappointed for the guys.”
Austin FC (5-13-4) remains tied for last in the West, having lost five of their last six games.
Godoy made it 1-1 with 20 minutes left in the second half. Midfielder Cristian Dajome put a ball into the box that Godoy headed into the net.
“I am so happy,” said Godoy. “We suffered too many losses before. We need to keep pushing to have more results.”
Driussi gave Austin a 1-0 lead late in the opening half.
Forward Cecilio Dominguez controlled the ball in the box before sending a pass to Driussi who scored on a header that beat Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal to the bottom right corner of the net. The goal was the second in the six games for Driussi while Dominguez earned his team-leading fourth assist.
Vancouver had two top chances in the 64th minute. Forward Brian White got behind the Austin defence and took a shot that Stuver stopped. Gauld got the rebound, but Stuver made another diving save.
Austin defender Julio Cascante saved a goal late in the half. Dajome had chipped a shot over Stuver that was headed for the open net, but Cascante managed to get his foot on the ball before it crossed the line.
NOTES: Whitecaps’ goaltender Thomas Hasal’s family was unable to attend the game because his mother, a pediatric neurologist in Saskatoon, was on call. … Godoy made his 50th MLS start. … The Whitecaps last won four consecutive MLS games between March 14 and April 4, 2015. … Vancouver played without goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and defender Javain Brown who were away on international duty for Canada and Jamaica.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 4, 2021.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press