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Vancouver Whitecaps’ slim playoffs chance increases after visit to Yankee Stadium

Aug 4, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York City defender Ronald Matarrita (22) fights with Vancouver Whitecaps forward Bernie Ibini-Isei (7) or the ball in front of midfielder Ismael Tajouri (29) during the first half at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a crucial point Saturday at Yankee Stadium with a 2-2 draw against New York City FC.

Vancouver took the lead through a Nicolás Mezquida long-distance shot in the 22th minute. The Whitecaps then fell behind by a goal after Jesús Medina equalized in the 45th minute and Valentín Giménez brought New York ahead in the 46th minute.

Vancouver was on the backfoot for much of the game, but thanks to a spot-on Brek Shea cross in the 87th minute, Erik Hurtado managed to equalize. Just a few minutes later Shea almost scored a winner with a free kick that hit the crossbar. Here’s three things that stood out in the match:

Keeping the playoff dream alive

Vancouver managed to gain a point at Yankee Stadium for the first time. It is a point that keeps the playoff dream alive, but it may not have been enough.

The draw coupled with last weekend’s win against Minnesota United put the Whitecaps back in the fight and increased their likelihood of making the playoffs from 11 percent to 14 percent, based on statistics from FiveThirtyEight

That still leaves the Whitecaps with only an outside chance of playing beyond October. 

No Alphonso Davies impact

It has been an eventful two weeks for 17-year-old Alphonso Davies. The Whitecaps youngster completed a record deal to FC Bayern Munich, then dazzled against Minnesota United and then played in the MLS All-Star game

>>>Watch highlights of Vancouver’s draw with NYCFC<<<

His appearance in the MLS All-Star game just three days before Saturday’s match meant that Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson kept Davies on the bench to start the match. But with the Whitecaps falling behind right after the second half kickoff, Robinson brought Davies on in the 53rd minute. 

Davies showed off some of his skill and almost scored an equalizer with a beautifully-curled effort shortly after. At the same time, it was apparent that the kid, as he is known in Vancouver, lacked the freshness necessary to be a weapon. 

The 17-year-old struggled finding space to make his forward runs. Instead, NYCFC’s defenders did well to cut down his running channels, taking the winger out of the game. 

Tough schedule continues

Vancouver will be back in action Wednesday to face Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship first-leg final at BC Place. 

While it is two extra games on the calendar, the Canadian Championship could be a welcome distraction to both clubs, which have struggled at times this season and risk missing out on the playoffs. 

Winning silverware and qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League would, therefore, rectify what has been a somewhat disappointing year for the Whitecaps. Hence, even in the middle of the playoff battle, Vancouver will put plenty of focus on winning the Canadian Championship for the second time in the club’s history. 

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