Report and Reaction: Whitecaps burn bright despite Leagues Cup shootout loss to Tigres

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps burn bright despite Leagues Cup shootout loss to Tigres

Much like Simone, football can be a cruel mistress. Two weeks after their loss to Leon in a mammoth penalty shootout, there was more Leagues Cup heartbreak at BC Place for Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday night.

The ‘Caps went toe-to-toe and beyond against Liga MX champions Tigres UANL and will feel they should have come away with a famous victory after Pedro Vite’s stunning strike had put them into a 9th minute lead. A sublime scissor kick from André Pierre-Gignac deservedly brought the Mexicans back onto level terms eight minutes into the second half, and although the Whitecaps edged the remainder of the match, they couldn’t find the breakthrough and were forced to go to the lottery of penalties once again.

Ranko Veselinovic was the unfortunate man to miss for the ‘Caps and Tigres ran out 5-3 winners in the shootout. A tough one to take for Vancouver, but a performance and a tournament that they can take so much from going into the remainder of the MLS season once it reconvenes later this month.

Vanni Sartini made four changes from the team that beat the Galaxy in LA on Sunday night, going with a back three for the fifth consecutive match and a 3-1-4-2 formation.

The ‘Caps were on the front foot from the start and they took the lead nine minutes in with the first shot of the game.

Ryan Gauld whipped in a ball from the left looking to find Brian White. It didn’t quite have enough on it and Samir partially cleared the ball, but not the danger. The ball fell to Vite, who chested it down from the bounce and fired home a fantastic strike on the volley from the edge of the box, leaving Nahuel Guzman rooted and putting Vancouver into the early lead.

Tigres had a great chance to tie things up in the 16th minute but Gignac whiffed his shot in front of goal and Vancouver broke quickly, with Gauld just failing to connect with a ball to the back post.

The Mexicans had an even better chance to level minutes later when Fernando Gorriaran was in the perfect position for a cutback from the byeline but was far too casual with his shot and Ryan Raposo cleared the ball of the ‘Caps goalline.

Vancouver were dealing with everything Tigres were throwing at them fairly comfortably, while looking dangerous in transition, but ‘Caps hearts were in their mouths when referee Lukasz Szpala was called over to look at a potential handball on Veselinovic in the 39th minute. Replays looked to show there was nothing there and the man in the middle agreed.

A cheeky near post curler from Raposo ended up in the side netting in the last minute of regulation, before an even more audacious chip from Gauld from 35 yards out had the keeper scrambling but was over.

That was that. An excellent half from the ‘Caps, although there was the nagging feeling that they need to have grabbed their second in that first 45.

Tigres came out all guns blazing to start the second half, with the Mexicans looking sharper, hungrier, and the first to every second ball.

It definitely felt like a matter of when will Tigres score, rather than if, and they got back on level terms in the 53rd minute with a stunning Gignac scissor kick off a Javier Aquino cross.

The game opened up, with both sides launching quick attacks. Raposo flashed a header off a White cross inches past the left post on the hour mark, as Vancouver regrouped and were having the better of the chances created.

Alessandro Schopf saw his fierce shot from the edge of the box turned away by a diving Guzman in the 79th minute, as the game flowed quickly from end to end.

Both teams pushed but couldn’t find the dramatic late winner in a frantic finish, where shape and defensive discipline went out the window, and the match was heading to penalties.

This time, however, it only took five rounds of spot kicks to decide the Whitecaps’ fate and not 19. With the first seven shooters all burying their efforts, Vancouver’s Veselinovic was the unfortunate man to miss, allowing Gorriaran to step up and drill home the decisive kick to send the Liga MX champions through to the Round of 16 and an all-Mexican match-up in Houston against Monterrey.

The Whitecaps can feel proud of their performances in the tournament and there’s a lot to take forward into the MLS season once it returns on August 20, especially for a team that will be even stronger after this week’s additions.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 Tigres UANL (Tigres win 5-3 on penalties)

ATT: 13,703

9’ – VAN – Pedro Vite
53’ – TIG – André Pierre-Gignac (Javier Aquino)

Possession: TIG 59.8% – VAN 40.2%
Shots: TIG 7 – VAN 8
Shots on Goal: TIG 3 – VAN 2
Saves: TIG 1 – VAN 1
Fouls: TIG 10 – VAN 13
Offsides: TIG 1 – VAN 1
Corners: TIG 2 – VAN 2

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Mathías Laborda 55’), Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon; Andrés Cubas; Sebastian Berhalter (Sergio Córdova 67’) Alessandro Schöpf (Russell Teibert 80’), Pedro Vite, Ryan Raposo; Brian White, Ryan Gauld (Ali Ahmed 80’) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Karifa Yao, J.C. Ngando, Levonte Johnson, Simon Becher, Matteo Campagna]

TIGRES: Nahuel Guzmán; Javier Aquino (Jesús Garza 82’), Guido Pizzaro, Samir De Souza, Jesús Angulo; Juan Vigón (Francisco Córdova 46’), Rafael Carioca (Eugenio Pizzuto 82’); Diego Lainez (Fernando Ordóñez 71’), Fernando Gorriarán, Luis Quiñones (Nicolás Ibáñez 71’); André-Pierre Gignac [Substitutes not used: Nicolás López, Eduardo Tercero, Raymundo Fulgencio, Carlos Rodríguez, Jonathan Herrera, Vladimir Loroña, Arturo Delgado]




On going toe-to-toe with a great team like Tigres:

“I disagree with you. We didn’t go toe-to-toe today, we deserved to win. I think we were much better than them, I think we played very well. I think that unfortunately we didn’t have enough quality in the final third in a lot of potential chances to score the second goal. But we showed that we played much better than that them, we deserve to win. It’s a steal.”

On Pedro Vite:

“Pedro is a very good player. Today he was the best player on the field, until I think at the end he was a little tired, but he kept playing with a quality. Let me rephrase, probably [Ryan] Raposo was the best player on the field today. [Vite] did very well. A lot of quality, keeping the ball. I’m proud. I’m really proud of the entire team. We get out of this tournament without losing. We deserve to win today. I’m proud of the team, but I’m proud of these young guys that they develop. Pedro, when I arrived two years ago, he was a player that was really in development, not intense enough, not doing the defensive phase, always trying to do magic. Now he’s a player that he does the thing that he’s supposed to do and on top of that, he keeps having his magic. I’m really optimistic for the rest of the season.”


On the team’s performance in Leagues Cup:

“I think you can see that it’s a resilient group of guys. Even in our last game, guys coming off our bench made the difference. It’s a deep team, and I think there’s a real belief in the group that not only can we make a playoff push, but I think the goal is to win the MLS cup and that’s apparent within the group. That’s our number one goal now.”

On what these Leagues Cup performances mean for the rest of the MLS season:

“I think good teams win on the road. I think good teams win games like we won in LA, when maybe on the day you’re not the best team, but you get the three points and you win. And at the end of the day when you look back, the three points is all that matters. So I think we’re going to have to do a lot more of that. We’re going to have to show that we are one of the better teams in the league, which I think we are, and get results on the road which are very difficult, as everyone knows in this league. But I think we’re now going to have a couple days off, reset, take your mind off football for a bit, and come back at 100 percent for this playoff push.”

PEDRO VITE (translated from Spanish)

On his team’s strong performance vs Tigres:

“It’s a bittersweet feeling, if I’m honest, because the team put a really good shift in today. We know what Tigres is about, we held on at some parts of the game because we lost the focus, but now we have to focus on MLS on August 20. We have to take these rest days and come back with the best mentality.”

On having a run of scoring early goals:

“I don’t know, really, they’re just parts of the game for me. I just really like reading the game, analyze the things that can happen, and thankfully I show up at the right spot to where the ball is and I try to make the best choices, and thankfully today they end up in goals”.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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