Knock out punch: Late winner sees Vancouver Whitecaps advance in Leagues Cup

A late Brian White winner lifted the Caps to the knockout stages of Leagues Cup, polishing off LA Galaxy 2-1 in another second half turnaround for Vancouver.

It was, truth be told, a bit of a smash and grab, with an own goal and White’s late poach doing enough to erase a rather mediocre match for the Caps, who did enough to ensure the Galaxy were not able to use their ample possession to grab a second goal.

The starting XI marked the return of Ryan Raposo to the lineup, a second start in a row for JC Ngando and a first appearance of the 2023 season for Isaac Boehmer, with Yohei Takaoka being handed a breather ahead of the run in. Mathias Laborda also slotted into the lineup after Luis Martins had a knock in warmups (not reflected in the below graphic) and changed the formation to a bit more of a 4-3-3.

The first chance of the match for the Caps was a good one, with Ngando latching onto a ball around the midfield line and playing a great ball in for Brian White, who was stonewalled by a late arriving Novak Micovic.

LA held the bulk of the possession and when they have the ball, you leave yourself open to the individual brilliance of Riqui Puig, which supplied LA the opener. The Spaniard played a one-two with one of the wide players and put a perfect finish past Boehmer into the bottom corner of the net.

The Galaxy continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides. The Caps struggled to maintain control of the midfield, granting Puig and Douglas Costa space, and not being particularly efficient when they worked their way into the opponent’s attacking third.

The most concerning part of the first half was the loss of Ranko Veselinovic, who was the victim of an awkward landing after coming together with his fellow Serbian, Dejan Jovelic, in an attempt to block a shot. Karifa Yao spelled Ranko after he briefly re-entered the match but it was officially deemed a right quad contusion for the Caps’ defensive linchpin.

The Caps continued to face similar struggles into the second half, with Ryan Gauld and Alessandro Schopf often receiving the ball in very deep positions and unable to advance the ball much and penetrate the Galaxy’s attacking third. The Galaxy, meanwhile, whiffed on a gilded edge chance from Tyler Boyd to make it 2-0.

This lack of progress frustrated Vancouver, who tried to force more turnovers by pressing further up the pitch but their efforts often lacked coordination and were picked apart by the Galaxy.

But the Galaxy’s lack of finishing created an opening and it was a recycled ball off a Caps corner that fell to Ryan Gauld and his cross went into the danger area and picked up a slight touch from unaware Calegari that caught Micovic off guard to give Vancouver an unlikely equalizer.

It was, however, a fittingly sweaty goal that settled this one. A half chance in the box was flicked on and Brian White pounced, wide open on the goalmouth to beat a helpless Micovic and putting the Galaxy to the sword after a series of missed opportunities and sending the Caps through to the knockout stages.

Stray Thoughts

  • Any shred of investment I had in Leagues Cup went out the window when Ranko Veselinovic came off injured and frankly I was quite looking forward to the boys getting a bit of a rest. So of course we advance with a stoppage time winner lol.
  • Ryan Raposo and Mathias Laborda turned things around a bit when the switch to a back four occurred but this was perhaps a bit of an ad for getting another fullback option in. Both had moments of uncertainty or a lack of execution going forward and they often got pinned in and were unable to advance the ball out of their own third. Raposo is coming off a strong match against Leon so this is perhaps an overreaction but was an inconsistent night for these two.
  • Some credit needs to go to the bit players for stepping up. Isaac Boehmer made a big stop, generally looked comfortable in the air and seemed to make a case for stepping around Thomas Hasal into the backup keeper role. Karifa Yao, who has made me nervous in past appearances, was quite fine in place of Ranko and JC Ngando had another match where he looked good, with a dangerous pass that White probably should have finished off early on.
  • There is something to be said for knowing when you don’t have your best stuff and riding it out, working whatever chances you can and making the most of them. All it took was one sweaty goal to get the Caps back in things and then Brian White did what he does best and suddenly 89 minutes of meh play don’t matter anymore. It was not as thrilling an advert for Leagues Cup as their match against Leon was but it was a nice sign that this team can fight and win in what is essentially a knockout fixture.
  • The Caps’ likely opponent will be Tigres and maybe it’ll go better than it did the last time those two teams met …

Man of the Match

Brian White deserves this for his one moment of magic; despite some other missed chances earlier, he stepped up when it mattered. I think Boehmer’s nice stop should bring him some recognition here as well and I thought Tristan Blackmon looked good. Andres Cubas, despite probably dodging a second yellow late in the game, continued to dominate, even when on a booking.

7 thoughts on “Knock out punch: Late winner sees Vancouver Whitecaps advance in Leagues Cup

  1. Yeah, Vanni admitted that in the post-game, and basically said sometimes you win ones you shouldn’t, and sometimes you lose games you should have won.

    Nice to see the Caps come out on the right side of that equation in a knockout game though

  2. “Any shred of investment I had in Leagues Cup went out the window when Ranko Veselinovic came off injured”

    That’s how I felt when I saw the lineup. No offence to Boehmer, who played great, but that move alone signalled that we weren’t really invested in winning. Add in the Martins injury in warmup and our midfield, and I figured that this was a “get some knockout game experience” game b/c we already had the prize and have a really rough MLS schedule later (as Vanni alluded to in the post-game interview).

    So get the young guys some minutes, then take a week off before a mini-training camp and hit the MLS schedule in top flight come Aug 20th.

    So the win was gravy, and now we get to see Tigres on Friday. I’d like to see a 100% playoff quality lineup for that though, to test ourselves regardless of the result

  3. “and our MVP, Ryan Gauld, had a hand in both goals- of course, playing on a Canadian team means he is β€˜flying under the radar’ in MLS”

    IMHO, that was a big factor in Gressel’s decision. Yes, the money/cost of living in Vancouver and family situation, but if he wants to play into the USMNT on regular basis, being in EST games in Columbus rather than games in Vancouver after most of the media and east coast have gone to bed definitely helps.

    And honestly, I can’t fault him. If you have a chance to play on a World Cup team on “home” soil, you do everything to maximize your chances.

  4. POTM- not sure there was one- it was won UGLY which is a good thing sometimes- i guess White has to be the guy

    we all know that LAG was the better team, but earlier in the season, we lost or tied games we should have won

  5. and our MVP, Ryan Gauld, had a hand in both goals- of course, playing on a Canadian team means he is ‘flying under the radar’ in MLS

    but he has been phenomenal for the past 2 months- it wasnt his best game- nor the Caps who looked sluggish and seemingly disinterested- but he did his magic when it counted

    i liked Boehmer in goal– he was commanding and solid with 1 terrific save- to me, and obviously to Vanni, he is the #1 back-up- he might get the nod on Friday

    looking up quad injuries, even if it is a mild contusion, i doubt Vesa plays on Friday- hopefully, Brown is ready and laborda slots over to CB

    looking forward to Friday- as i have been saying for months- the Caps are a TEAM worth watching

Join the Conversation!