Emphatic 4-1 win for Whitecaps over RSL in first game under new interim coach

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VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps showed their "new normal" Sunday night in a convincing 4-1 victory over Real Salt Lake that gave interim coach Vanni Sartini his first Major League Soccer win.

Midfielder Ryan Gauld scored one goal and set up two others for the Whitecaps, who won their third consecutive league game and extended their MLS unbeaten streak to nine matches (4-0-5) before a crowd of 7,503 at BC Place.

Forward Brian White in the 53rd minute and defender Florian Jungwirth in the 69th also scored.

Vancouver took advantage of a Real Salt Lake own goal in the 33rd minute to improve their record to 6-7-8.

Jungwirth said the Whitecaps were frustrated by a poor performance in a 4-3 upset loss to Pacific FC of the Canadian Premier League in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Championship Thursday that led to the firing of head coach Marc Dos Santos. Phil Dos Santos, Marc's brother and an assistant coach with the club, was also fired.

“We felt the guilt,” said Jungwirth, who scored his first goal in three MLS seasons. “We came out flying today. There was a lot of anger in us.”

With 13 games left, the Whitecaps are tied with San Jose with 26 points – one point out of the playoffs behind Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers.

Just six points separate 10th-place Dallas from fifth-place Minnesota in the tight Western Conference.

“We know it’s going to be a constant battle until Decision Day,” said Jungwirth, who came to Vancouver earlier this month in a trade from San Jose. “We know we are capable of making the playoffs.

“Today we showed what it takes. That must be the normal. We have to provide that every week in every game. That we are ready, that we are really nasty.”

White, who scored his third goal in as many games, said the Whitecaps must remain focused.

“The guys did a good job of putting their energy into coming out and doing what we can to get the three points,” he said.

“Our No. 1 goal right now is to get above that line and qualify for the playoffs. There are a lot of games left to play. We are focused on the next game, not looking too far ahead, not worrying about what the other teams are doing. Just focusing on us and getting three points.”

Sartini, the team’s director of methodology, said he experienced a variety of emotions heading into the game.

“I was everything on the scale,” he said. “I was excited, scared, preoccupied, inspired.

“I was every adjective and now I’m just happy.”

Anderson Julio scored for the visitors in the 90th minute.

Real Salt Lake, also playing its first game under a new head coach, dropped to 7-8-6. It was RSL’s second consecutive loss and the fourth in six games.

Former assistant Pablo Mastroeni took over the role of interim head coach for Real Salt Lake after it was announced Friday that Freddy Juarez and the club had parted ways.

“I feel like we didn’t have the right mentality,” said Mastroeni. “They were the first to most balls and picked up all the loose balls.

“It was a very difficult match.”

The Whitecaps went ahead 1-0 midway through the opening half when Gauld sent the ball into the box on a corner kick. It hit RSL defender Marcelo Silva and deflected past the fingertips of goalkeeper Andrew Putna.

Early in the second half, Vancouver forward Cristian Dajome hammered a shot from a sharp angle. Putna made the save but White put in the rebound.

Gauld scored in the 64th minute on a header off a cross from defender Javain Brown. Jungwirth made it 4-0 when he headed in a corner kick from Gauld.

RSL came close in the 42nd minute when Noah Powder’s rocket of a shot from distance hit the post then landed at the feet of forward Justin Meram. Facing nothing but open net, Meram put his shot over the top of the goal.

Vancouver’s last loss was a 4-0 defeat at the hands of RSL on July 7.

NOTES: Capacity at BC Place for the game was around 13,000, with fans required to wear masks. … Vancouver has scored six first-half goals this season with Dajome leading the way with two. … The Whitecaps played without midfielders Caio Alexandre (left foot fracture) and Michael Baldisimo (right foot irritation), striker Lucas Cavallini (left knee sprain) and defenders Erik Godoy (left calf strain), Cristian Gutierrez (left quad strain) and Jake Nerwinski (right knee). … The Whitecaps played their first eight homes games at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinton Stadium in Sandy, Utah, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2021.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

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