Ryan Gauld made it four straight games with a goal to salvage a point for Vancouver Whitecaps in a pretty dull match with the Supporters Shield leading FC Cincinnati at BC Place on Saturday night.
The Scot scored from the spot in the 89th minute as all the action was saved for the final few minutes of this one, with Gauld’s penalty cancelling out Luciano Acosta’s opener for the visitors just six minutes earlier.
A share of the points was the fair result in a match where both sides had their chances but didn’t threaten too much, with Vancouver not quite suffering a hangover from their Voyageurs Cup heroics midweek, but certainly not at the full throttle we’ve seen them be at home this season.
Vanni Sartini made five changes to the team that started that midweek Canadian Championship triumph over Montreal, as he looked to get some freshness in the side in the club’s 11th game in 36 days. With those changes came a change of formation as well, playing a 3-4-2-1 for only the second time this season.
It’s been a long few weeks for both clubs but it didn’t stop both carrying the play back and forward in a fairly even, end-to-end first half.
Sebastian Berhalter had the first real shot of the match, firing a long range effort narrowly past the postage stamp corner seven minutes in for the ‘Caps.
Brian White had the next chance to open the scoring for the home side four minutes later, getting onto a long ball forward from Luis Martins but sending his chip wide of the right post, aided by a bit of a weird bounce off the turf.
Cincinnati responded with a chance of their own, with Brandon Vazquez twisting and turning in the box before firing off a shot which Yohei Takaoka smothered at the second attempt.
Álvaro Barreal had a shocked well blocked by Javain Brown minutes later as the game started to pick up.
Sergio Cordova had a shot in the 23rd minute which Roman Celentano also saved at the second attempt and just in time with White about to pounce on the initial rebound.
Cincinnati had a couple of looks on goal in the 40th minute with Yuya Kubo bringing a save out of Takaoka before a big block by Ranko Veselinovic off Barreal from the rebound.
The last chance of the half fell to Cordova, but he hit his effort well wide and the teams went in level and goalless.
For all the chances in that first half, the second one was a bit of a letdown until the closing minutes.
Dominique Badji had a shot saved by Takaoka in the 51st minute, but that was it for any real goalscoring chances until White was played in for Vancouver in the 79th minute, but he could only put his chip on top of the net and not under it.
Then from seemingly nowhere, Cincinnati took the lead with seven minutes remaining when Acosta ran onto a long ball forward from Matt Miazga and looped it over the head of Takaoka into the top corner from a tight angle.
LUCHO ACOSTA! 🤯@fccincinnati take the late lead on the road.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 11, 2023
It was harsh on the Whitecaps to be behind, and you have to question Takaoka’s positioning to allow the goal, but that only lasted for six minutes before they got themselves back on level terms.
Cordova chased down a long ball forward into the box and was sent crashing to the deck by a clumsy challenge from Miazga. Referee Ismir Pekmic pointed to the spot and Gauld stepped up to dispatch his second crucial penalty in four days to make it 1-1.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) June 11, 2023
With no further chances carved out in the six minutes of stoppage time added on, both teams had to settle for a point apiece, a fair result really and considering Cincinnati have only lost once this season, not a bad result all things considered for Vancouver.
Two points dropped at home of course is not ideal for the ‘Caps, especially as they are struggling to pick up wins and points on the road. The team get now finally gets an 11 day rest for the international break but they face three straight away games when they return. It looks to be much needed. Hopefully by that time they will have concocted some magical formula that will see them become the road warriors they need to be if they are to be serious postseason contenders.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 FC Cincinnati
83’ – CIN – Luciano Acosta (Matt Miazga)
89’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld (penalty kick)
Possession: VAN 53.3% – CIN 46.7%
Shots: VAN 11 – CIN 10
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – CIN 3
Saves: VAN 2 – CIN 2
Fouls: VAN 16 – CIN 13
Offsides: VAN 1 – CIN 2
Corners: VAN 5 – CIN 2
VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Tristan Blackmon 66′), Ranko Veselinović, Mathías Laborda; Ryan Raposo (Julian Gressel 66′), Sebastian Berhalter (Déiber Caicedo 86′), Andrés Cubas (Ryan Gauld 73′), Luís Martins; Sergio Córdova, Pedro Vite; Brian White (Simon Becher 86′) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Karifa Yao, J.C. Ngando, Russell Teibert]
CINCINNATI: Roman Celentano; Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Ian Murphy (Santiago Arias 68′); Alvas Powell, Obinna Nwobodo, Jaime Moreno, Álvaro Barreal (Ray Gaddis 90’+4); Yuya Kubo (Malik Pinto 78′); Brandon Vázquez, Dominique Badji (Luciano Acosta 68′) [Substitutes not used:
Alec Kann, Marco Angulo, Arquimides Ordoñez, Evan Louro]
On the match:
“I think we did a very good job. I think we did a game where we did what we’re supposed to do. We started too aggressive in my opinion the first 20 minutes, with our midfielders trying to press every ball and they scared us with two long balls. Then when we settled down, it was perfect. We had a lot of chances, we were the best team on the pitch, to be honest, from minute 15 to minute 90. Acosta scored with a world class goal, we have to be honest when someone scores a goal like this, you say bravo. After conceding a goal and then being in a very unfair position of being down and five minutes to go. We pushed and we pushed, and at the end we were pushing trying to win the game. We are a little bit unlucky, let’s say like this, because I think we deserve more than 20 points that we have. But today, I think the result of the tie was a fair result.”
On Sergio Cordova:
“This is the Sergio that we bought. This is the Sergio that we want. This is the Sergio that we know how he can play, attacking the space in behind, creating chances, winning the ball and pressing, being a handful for 95 minutes for the other team. I think he was player of the match, in my opinion. I think he did well and I hope that he continues doing like this.”
On winning games on the road:
“It’s going to be I think the most important thing. It’s the thing that I said to the players today. At home we are more than a playoff team, at home we are like a top three team in the league. Away we’ve been not very good. We’ve been okay in most of the games. We’ve been bad in two games, in San Jose and in Portland. So we cannot allow to be bad in games, for the team that we are we need to play well in order to win. And so now we have three games in a row away. I think we need to have an objective to make our first win on the road in one of these next three games.”
On the match:
“I mean, we executed the game plan well. I don’t think they had too many clear cut chances. Then we had opportunities to win the game. The ball just wasn’t bouncing our way, but happy to get out of there with a point.”
On Sergio Cordova:
“I thought he was great tonight. I think he’s unlucky not to get his goal. The one at the end I was trying to get to him. Like I said, he was playing fantastic, holding the ball up, creating space, taking guys on. So it’s great to have him perform like that. He’s going to score eventually. And you know, we’re all rooting for him. He’s going to be a big player for us.”
On winning on the road:
“I think we can. I think we’re coming into our own, we have players stepping up that are coming into their own as well. And for us it’s important to not listen to the story that we can’t win on the road. It’s going to happen, we’re going to win on the road, and for us it’s about believing and putting our best foot forward and performing when we can.”