Report and Reaction: Gauld sparks second half comeback as Whitecaps breathe new life into their season with win in Austin

Report and Reaction: Gauld sparks second half comeback as Whitecaps breathe new life into their season with win in Austin

(Photo Credit: @WhitecapsFC/Twitter)

Defeat was not really an option for either side in the battle of the bottom two teams in the Western Conference on Wednesday night if they still harbored hopes of the playoffs.

In the end it was Vancouver Whitecaps who left Texas with those dreams still firmly alive after a 2-1 come from behind win over Austin FC thanks to a Ryan Gauld inspired second half fightback as goals from Jake Nerwinski and Brian White overturned a first half deficit from an Alexander Ring header.

With injuries still plaguing some of the Whitecaps key players, Marc Dos Santos made only one change from the team that drew with San Jose at the weekend, with Cristian Dajome coming back in on the right wing for Ryan Raposo.

Vancouver headed into this one on the cusp of equalling the MLS all-time record for consecutive draws, which is set at six and was a feat matched by Chicago Fire in 2014, Colorado Rapids in 2011, and San Jose Earthquakes in 2004 going into 2005.

Austin were just looking to try and reignite their season after recording their 11th game without a goal in their weekend defeat at RSL. The good news for the Texans was that if they score at home, they were unbeaten.

Vancouver came out on the front foot, forcing a string of early corners, but neither side really looked like breaking the deadlock.

And there was very little of note until Austin took the lead, somewhat against the run of play, in the 37th minute.

Austin’s new DP Sebastián Driussi whipped in a corner and Austin’s captain Ring showed great movement to lose his marker and brilliantly headed home past a sprawling Max Crepeau. A great goal for the home side, but poor anticipation from the visitors.

Brian White swept the ball into the side netting from a Dajome cross in the last minute of the half, but that was it from the Whitecaps, who badly needed some fresh ideas in there if they were going to get anything from this game.

Those ideas were hopefully going to come from Gauld, who came on for the restart, and Vancouver certainly looked lively again to start the half.

And Gauld made an almost immediate impact, sending in a beautiful delivery from a corner to the back post onto the head of White. His effort was saved by Brad Stuver, and Nerwinski poked home the rebound from close range. 1-1 and game well and truly on.

Vancouver were lifted by the goal and took the game to Austin, but the home side reminded the ‘Caps they were still there on the hour mark when sub Jon Gallagher flashed a header from a Hector Jimenez cross past the left post.

Both teams surely fancied they could finally get another win on the board, and it was Vancouver who went ahead in the 74th minute, and that man Gauld in the thick of the action once again.

A quick counter saw Deiber Caicedo take the ball forward up the left win, playing in Gauld, who cut the ball across goal for White to slide in an put the Whitecaps ahead.

Gauld nearly put the game to bed for Vancouver ten minutes from time when Dajome played him in, but Stuver stood tall to turn the ball away for a corner.

Gauld had another half chance minutes later but Austin were looking to take something from this one and Gallagher was allowed a free header six yards out but put it over when he really had to hit the target.

But that was the last real threat Vancouver were to face and they saw out the match to claim what can’t be understated is a massive three points.

A defeat would have seen the ‘Caps cut adrift at the foot of the Western Conference standings, with their postseason hopes on life support. Instead, that second half comeback has breathed new life into their season, moving them up just one place in the table to 11th but to within four points of the playoff line, with a game in hand over the two teams immediately above them.

With nine of their remaining 15 matches at home at BC Place, the Whitecaps could finally be seeing a shift in momentum this year. They still have to get the job done of course and that starts against LAFC on Saturday. Three of these next four home games are against teams currently outside the playoff line looking in. Three wins there and we’re looking at a far different season run in than it was looking not that long ago.

FINAL SCORE: Austin FC 1 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 20,738

STATS:
Possession: ATX 62.4% – VAN 37.6%
Shots: ATX 9 – VAN 18
Shots on Goal: ATX 2 – VAN 8
Saves: ATX 0 – VAN 6
Fouls: ATX 15 – VAN 11
Offsides: ATX 2 – VAN 0
Corners: ATX 4 – VAN 10

AUSTIN: Brad Stuver; Hector Jimenez (Jared Stroud 75), Jhohan Romana (Julio Cascante 89), Matt Besler, Nick Lima; Daniel Pereira, Alex Ring; Diego Fagundez (Zan Kolmanic 75), Cecilio Dominguez (Jon Gallagher 30), Tomas Pochettino (Rodney Redes 89); Sebastian Driussi [Substitutes not used: Andrew Tarbell, Aedan Stanley, Sebastian Berhalter, Freddy Kleemann]

VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinović, Andy Rose (Florian Jungwirth 89), Jake Nerwinski; Leonard Owusu (Ryan Gauld 46), Janio Bikel, Russell Teibert (Michael Baldisimo 81); Cristian Dájome, Brian White (Tosaint Ricketts 78), Déiber Caicedo [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Bruno Gaspar, Ryan Raposo, Kamron Habibullah, Patrick Metcalfe]

REACTION:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

MARC DOS SANTOS

On the game:

I agree with you it would be very unfair that the first was not good. I think we started on the front foot we pressed the opponent, there were moments of good pressure from us but maybe some of the decision making in the final third weren’t the best ones and then we have six corner kicks versus zero and we couldn’t get anything and then they get one corner kick and they get something from it. I think this is the only second corner where we’ve conceded, we felt it wasn’t fair to come into the half losing 1-0. We addressed a little bit of things in our pressure from the front, we expanded a little bit more, took a little bit more risks but it gave us the opportunity to find key players in good spots to make good actions. I live with these guys more, with tehese players more than my kids. I spent more hours with the roster than my kids I know what we can achieve and there’s no doubt in my head we can achieve something. The mentality of these guys is road warriors I would say, they deserve it and every one that’s working hard in the club deserves it. There’s no time to breath, we have LAFC and then Pacific, that’s going to be a hard away game, we’re just going to take it game by game.

On the importance of winning this match in terms of the season:

You know we spoke about the game that you know maybe nobody but maybe only a few people believed we could be in the top 7 at the start of the season but we believed here. For us to be in the top 7, we have to take points and win games that are challenging and this was one of those games. For us, the most important thing was to give hope to our fans and when you’re in the run that were on it means that we’re building something. To come here and win a couple days before our home opener, we want to give the fans hope cause they deserve it for the support they’ve given us.

On the game’s tactics:

The first half we wanted to keep doing what we’ve been doing in the past couple games we just thought we could do a couple things betters. We were the best team in the first but we were coming into break 1-0 down. What we were missing in the first half was they pulled Nick Lima and Hector Jimenez so high up the field so we felt if we pushed Deiber and Dajo a little bit forward to try to maybe get in behind on the counter. We signed Ryan for that, to come into the pockets, to look for the last ball, to allow Dajo and Deiber to get open and find them and I think he was able to do that.

On Gauld’s performance:

You know when you see the game opens up, it’s very humid here it’s very hot so is not possible to do things in a compact way all the time so we expanded and when the game gets expanded the players with technical quality they make a difference. Of course when you leave the game winning 2-1 and Ryan is involved in the corner kick for the 1-1 and gets the assist for the 2-1, you’re happy but for me its about the sum of the parts, Ryan Gauld isn’t Ryan Gauld without Brian’s run to the far post. Ryan Gauld isn’t Ryan Gauld without Jake’s determination at the back post. You know that’s why we signed him.

On White’s second goal of the season:

Yea he’s hungry and when we were preparing the sub because we’re playing another game on Saturday, so when we were preparing the sub before he scored and it’s so deserved. Brian is such a team guy. Brian is a guy that has zero ego, that works very good, it’s a very good signing by the club to bring a guy in like that cause we always need forward to be ready and Brian has worked so hard for the team he deserves it.

RYAN GAULD

On his & the team’s performance:

I think most important was getting the win, it was a great feeling after getting a lot of consecutive draws but to be able to turn one into a victory is very good and I feel good I’ve settled into the team. It’s been a very easy group to settle into, I think everyone’s happy tonight.

On playing with a smile on his face:

That’s the way I always try to play, it doesn’t always work but we managed especially at the start of the 2nd half we created a lot of chances. I’ll always be hapopy enough if we create those chances and try to score.

On if he’s ready to go a full 90 minutes:

I mean the whole 90 might be a little bit of a push but I feel ready to play more minutes. It’s been good these last couple games to build up cause I was starting from nothing. Thankfully tonight I was able to come into the game and help the team. The humidity didn’t help, I’ve never played in that type of heat before but yea I feel ready to play more minutes.

On adjusting to the league’s play:

I would say it’s been quite physical. The games have been fast paced, quite high intensity but since I’ve been here we’ve held our own against all three teams we’ve played and now we’ll try to build off the three games and especially coming home to Vancouver it’s going to be great to be playing in front of our fans again.

On the travel difference between leagues in Europe & MLS:

There’s a big difference between us and Europe but this is the way it is. Playing in MLS a lot of the teams are spread out so we can’t try to use that as a an excuse because every team does the same thing.

On playing at BC Place:

I’m very excited, I’ve not been there yet, I’ve not been able to be at the stadium yet. It’ll be great to be in front of the fans. Everyone more so than me is looking forward to being back at BC Place and we got a lot of home games coming up. We’ll be looking to take as many three points as we can from those games.

JAKE NERWINSKI

On Locker Room Mood:

“We’re really happy. It’s been a tough time to be away from home for so long. It’s been over a year and we know that it’s finally come to an end and now we get to play in front of our fans and we get to play in BC Place. We had five straight draws that are always good to get on the road. And now we got to go home with plus three points? It’s huge for momentum.”

On Ryan Gauld:

“I think anybody that’s watching sees that he changed the game completely. He’s a quality player, he’s good in tight places, and he plays that final ball so well. We’re really excited to see more of him; he’s only [played] 30 minutes here and there. We’re excited to see what he can do for a full 90 soon. He’s a guy that could really help us take it to the next step and take us above the playoff line.”

On Left Back Transition:

“Any opportunity that I’m getting right now to play, I want to make the most of it. It’s been a bit of an up and down season for me, I think that we have some really good quality at outside back. I’m just trying to do what I can to be on the field and, when I get on the field, to help the team get points and get wins. I think that I was able to do that tonight. The more that I’ve been playing at left back the more I’ve been getting comfortable; it’s not too different. Once you get used to it, I’ve had the experience for the last five years that I can use to play in a different position.”

On Attacking and Scoring:

“I wanted to put an emphasis on trying to get more goals, trying to get assists, and really trying to help this team offensively. I think the outside back roll has really progressed through the years, where [now] it’s integral that you are able to attack, and I think that so far this year, myself, Guti [Cristián Gutiérrez], Bruno [Gaspar] and Javain [Brown] have done a pretty good job of getting forward when we can.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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