Gauld scores twice to steer playoff-seeking Whitecaps past Rapids 2-1

·3 min read

VANCOUVER — Midfielder Ryan Gauld scored a pair of first half goals as the Vancouver Whitecaps kept their Major League Soccer playoff hopes alive with a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids Wednesday night.

Striker Gyasi Zardes scored in the 76th minute for Colorado.

The win, before 14,682 fans at BC Place Stadium, leapfrogged the Whitecaps (9-11-6) into the seventh and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 33 points. It also was the bounce-back performance coach Vanni Sartini was hoping for after his team was mauled 5-2 by the L.A. Galaxy on the road Saturday.

The Whitecaps, who have eight games remaining, are (3-3-3) in their last nine matches.

Colorado (8-10-7) dropped to 11th in the West with 31 points. The Rapids suffered just their second loss in their last eight games (3-2-3). They are 2-7-3 on the road.

The Western Conference remains tight. Six teams are in contention with just two points separating the sixth-place Galaxy and Colorado.

Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal made his first start since injuring his hand May 8 in a game against Toronto.

Gauld opened in the scoring in the 14th minute off a heads-up play by Julian Gressel. The Vancouver midfielder, obtained from D.C. United in a July trade, stole the ball along the sidelines then drove toward the Colorado net. He dished the ball to Gauld who beat goalkeeper William Yarbrough with a right-footed shot.

It was just the second time in eight matches Vancouver scored the game’s opening goal.

Gauld made it 2-0 in the 40th minute. He pounced on a turnover in the Rapids' zone, used his speed to out-race a couple of defenders, then fired a low, hard shot past a sprawling Yarbrough that found the corner of the net.

Gauld came close again early in the second half, blasting a shot from deep in the box that was stopped by a Colorado defender on the goal line.

Zardes made things interesting late in the second half. Lewis started the play with a shot that Hasal stopped but Zardes put in the rebound.

The goal gave the Rapids some legs and they pressured the Whitecaps for the rest of the match. There was a groan from the crowd when seven minutes of injury time was extended. Zardes came close in the extra time, hitting the post with a header.

Gauld now has six goals on the season, second on the Whitecaps behind Lucas Cavallini’s eight. Gressel, who collected his first assist as a Whitecap, came close in the 38th with a hard shot from distance that just missed the open side of the net.

Colorado’s Jonathan Lewis had a couple of great chances in the first half. In the 22nd minute Hasal stopped a Lewis shot from the left side of the box, then in the 26th minute Lewis sent a shot just over the top of the net.

THROW-INS: Defender Javain Brown left the game early in the first half with a left ankle injury. … Gauld and defender Ranko Veselinovic are the only Whitecaps to score first-half goals at home this season. .. The Whitecaps are back on the road playing Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, wrapping up a stretch of three games in eight days. … Four of Vancouver’s eight remaining regular-season games are on the road. … The Whitecaps have loaned midfielder Caio Alexandre to Brazilian Série A side Fortaleza EC through Dec. 31, 2022. The 23-year-old Brazilian made five appearances across all competitions this season after recovering from a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot and a left-hand fracture.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2022

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press