Real Salt Lake deal Whitecaps 4-0 loss, extend Vancouver's losing skid to eight games

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SANDY, Utah — After yet another demoralizing defeat, Vancouver Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos knows he has a tough job in front of him.

The 'Caps (2-7-3) saw their winless skid extended to eight games Wednesday as they dropped an ugly 4-0 decision to Real Salt Lake. The club remains firmly entrenched at the bottom of the Western Division standings.

“It’s my job as a coach to pick them up," Dos Santos said after the loss. "I believe in them... I see them working hard, I see them showing up, I see them giving the best that they have. And that’s my job here. And I’m going to keep on doing it with all the passion that I have.”

Asked whether he's still the person to lead the beleaguered club, the coach's response was swift.

"100 per cent yes," he said.

Vancouver maintained 55.2 per cent of the possession throughout Wednesday's matchup, but Salt Lake dominated the shots 18-11 and 8-2 on target.

Play had barely kicked off when the trouble began for the slumping Whitecaps.

Just 45 seconds in, Salt Lake's Damir Kreilach got a right-footed shot off in the penalty area. Vancouver 'keeper Thomas Hasal tried to get a hand on it but the ball bounced into the net behind him, giving Real Salt Lake (4-3-4) an early 1-0 lead.

With Vancouver's usual starting 'keeper Maxime Crepeau off with the Canadian national team at the Gold Cup, Hasal — who turns 22 on Friday — was making his first start of the year. His last MLS game came on Sept. 20, 2019 when he suffered a concussion in 2-1 win over Salt Lake.

The 'Caps tightened up as the first half went on, holding 55.7 per cent of the possession.

Deiber Caicedo had Vancouver's best chance of the first 45 minutes after Kreilach chopped him down outside the top of the penalty area. The Colombian forward took the ensuing free kick, driving a shot directly on net but Salt Lake's David Ochoa made the stop.

The RSL 'keeper had two saves to register his second clean sheet of the season.

Vancouver had another beautiful opportunity in the 53rd minute when Cristian Dajome sent a cross into the box. Brian White tried for sliding shot but was just a moment too late. Caicedo nearly got on the ball at the back post but the attempt went wide.

Minutes later, Kreilach blasted a shot from the top of the penalty area, only to see Hasal leap across the net and make a spectacular superman save. It was one of four stops the Vancouver goalkeeper recorded on Wednesday.

Kreilach wasn't deterred. Justin Meram sent the Yugoslavian midfielder a cross into the box in the 57th minute and Kreilach put a header in back post to give Salt Lake a 2-0 lead.

Kreilach has been a burr to the 'Caps this season. The midfielder now has seven goals on the year with four coming against Vancouver.

Going down 2-0 changed the game and handed control to Salt Lake, Caicedo said.

"They played better than us at the end of the day. At the end of the day, they scored their goals, they had their chances," he said through a translator. "We just have to go back to the drawing board and improve on what we have to do and play for the badge.”

A call on Javain Brown added to the Vancouver's woes. The right back was called for taking down Meram just inside the penalty area in the 71st minute. Brown's knee made contact with Meram's head after the collision and the American forward held a towel to his nose as he left the field.

Albert Rusnak took the ensuing penalty shot, beating a diving Hasal with a low ball to the bottom-right corner of the net at the 74-minute mark.

Anderson Julio sealed the score at 4-0 four minutes into injury time after an attempt by Kreilach was blocked in the penalty area. The ball fell to Julio, who changed feet, then sent a right-footed shot into the top of the Vancouver net.

While the 'Caps were listed on the scoresheet as the home side Wednesday, the game took place at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, where Vancouver has been based out of this year due to pandemic-related border closures. Many fans in the stands wore RSL garb and cheers eminated from the stands when the so-called visitors scored.

The Whitecaps now have a brief reprieve. They'll be back in action on July 17, hosting the L.A. Galaxy in Utah.

Dos Santos said there are several moments from Wednesday's game that he can use to build his team up over the next week and a half.

“The first thing we need to do is go back and look at the little things that are not allowing us to win a game," he said. "I’m going to have to be creative, I’m going to have to find solutions and I’m going to have to think about that very well. But I’m incredibly motivated to prepare for the next game.”

NOTES: Wednesday marked the 10th time this season Vancouver has conceded the first goal of a game. … The 'Caps were without striker Lucas Cavallini, who was called up to the Canadian national team. … Centre back Erik Godoy made his 50th appearance for the Whitecaps.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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