It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s official – Vancouver Whitecaps have been eliminated from contention for the 2019 MLS playoffs.
The final nail in the coffin was fittingly banged in at home, a place far from being called a fortress this year, by New York City FC in a 3-1 defeat that saw some decent play form a Whitecaps perspective, but ultimately the difference in class between them and playoff teams this season was very much on display.
Goals from Heber and Gary Mackay-Steven had the New Yorkers two up and on easy street by the 26th minute, and a first half overturned penalty decision summed up Vancouver’s evening.
The ‘Caps did get on the scoresheet from a 64th minute Yordy Reyna free kick, but any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed when Alexandru Mitrita curled home a stunning free kick eight minutes later to restore NYC’s two goal lead and round off the scoring.
AFTN photographers Tom (@ResidualImage) and Caroline (@FrogPhoto) were there to capture the action before, during, and after the game. Here’s their “Story In Pictures”, with a full Flickr slideshow at the end.
You Whitecaps starting XI
It didn’t take long for the visitors to make their presence felt though as Tony Rocha picked Jon Erice’s pocket, Alexandru Mitrita set up Heber, and the striker fired home a 10th minute opener with a lovely outside of the foot finish
Not so sure about the celebrations though
Vancouver’s evening was going from bad to worse as Jake Nerwinski stayed down clutching at his ankle
And the right back had to be helped off the pitch, leaving BC Place in a walking boot and on crutches
But the injury bug was catching and goalscorer Heber soon followed
At least Max Crepeau was being a constant with his saves
But NYCFC made it two in the 26th minute when sub Gary Mackay-Steven got on to a through ball
Knocking it over Crepeau
For his first MLS goal, and on his birthday to boot
Was another long evening in store for the ‘Caps?
But they thought they had a lifeline when Sean Johnson came out to meet a streaking Tosaint Ricketts
The ‘Caps striker went crashing to the deck and referee Marcos DeOliveira pointed to the spot
Only to be called over for a video review and he reversed his decision
Causing anger on the Whitecaps bench that saw assistant coach Vanni Sartini and goalkeeping coach Youssef Dahha sent off
Could they have been followed by Doneil Henry for an elbow? NYCFC felt yes
But Yordy Reyna gave the Whitecaps some hope, getting onto a Ricketts pass
And rifling one past Johnson in the 64th minute for his team leading 7th of the season
A beautiful shot
But the hope didn’t last long as Mitrita curled home a beauty of his own eight minutes later
With a wonderful curling free kick around the wall, securing a 3-1 NYCFC win
Another defeat, the playoffs officially gone, and the body language says it all for how disappointing this season has been
You can see all of Tom’s photos from the game HERE and in our full Flickr slideshow below: