VANCOUVER, BC — The Vancouver Whitecaps already were eliminated from the playoffs entering their final match of the season, and another defeat helped their playoff-bound opponent climb the table.
Real Salt Lake (15-13-5, 53 points) finished in third place in the Western Conference with a 1-0 victory over the Caps (8-15-10, 34 points) in front of an announced 18,378 spectators at BC Place. The result means that Real Salt Lake has clinched a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“In very general terms, Salt Lake played a playoff game,” Vancouver head coach Marc Dos Santos said. “You know they were deep and dangerous on the counter.”
Nonetheless, Vancouver had the first chance of the game in the 4th minute. Tosaint Ricketts missed a header after an Ali Adnan free kick.
In the 26th minute, Real Salt Lake scored. Erik Godoy allowed Corey Baird too much room on the right, and his cross found Damir Kreilach, who easily escaped defender Doneil Henry to give Real Salt Lake the lead.
Then in the 33rd minute, Real Salt Lake should have doubled its lead. A deflected shot by Albert Rusnák hit the post, and then Jefferson Savarino skied the rebound.
Easy giveaways, lack of tactical cohesion and poor decision making dominated the Whitecaps game in the first 45 minutes. In many ways, the midfield mirrored the same problems that the Whitecaps have faced all season.
Oct 6, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Inbeom Hwang (4) controls the ball against Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7) during the first half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
“Some guys, most guys, only met each other this year,” Russell Teibert said after the game about the chemistry on the field. “For those relationships to instantaneously click — that is something very difficult to do.”
With the midfield stuttering once again in the first half and the Whitecaps struggling, Real Salt Lake’s lack of efficiency was the only thing that kept ‘Caps in the game.
Vancouver had the better start in the second half and almost equalized in the 55th minute when Theo Bair’s cross from the right found Chirinos unmarked in the center of the box. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando, who played his last regular-season MLS game and will retire following the playoffs, stretched out and kept the ball out of the net.
Overall, Chirinos was Vancouver’s best player, and in the 69th minute he nearly scored an equalizer. The winger went through on the right, but Rimando deflected the shot.
The Whitecaps continued to have more opportunities — most notably one from Godoy, who missed Rimando’s goal from the edge of the box — but never scored.
“We deserved a goal. We deserved at least a point,” Dos Santos said. “We did enough for that in the second half, but we didn’t have the spark or the little bit of luck.”
Vancouver Whitecaps (4-3-3)
Crépeau – Adnan, Henry, Cornelius, Godoy – Teibert, Rose (Mukumbilwa, 81′), In-beom – Bair (Reyna, 60′), Ricketts (Montero, 60′), Chirinos
Real Salt Lake City (4-2-3-1)
Rimando – Toia, Onuoha, Glad, Herrera – Beckerman, Luiz – Baird (Silva 89′), Rusnák (Rowe, 84′), Savarino (Lennon, 84′) – Kreilach