VANCOUVER, BC – Carl Robinson promised an end-to-end affair on Saturday afternoon.
And Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-6L-1D) did not disappoint, cruising to a dominant 3-1 win over new MLS darlings Atlanta United FC (5W-5L-3D) at BC Place.
The ‘Caps scored three unanswered goals after Atlanta took an early lead, including a first-half brace from captain Kendall Waston – his first two goals of 2017 – and Fredy Montero’s team-leading fifth goal of the season in the 68th minute.
The win improves Vancouver’s record to .500 on the season, including four wins in their last five MLS outings at BC Place.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made one change to his starting lineup after last weekend’s 1-0 defeat vs. D.C. United, as midfielder Matias Laba returned from suspension to replace Alphonso Davies.
It was the sixth time in seven MLS matches Robinson had fielded the same starting XI.
Their assignment on Saturday? A high-flying Atlanta attack that entered the weekend atop the MLS scoring charts. And the expansion showed what they’re all about early.
In the seventh minute, an unmarked Greg Garza gave Atlanta the lead, banging in a cross from Julian Gressel at the back post.
Just like that, it was 1-0 for the visitors. But the ‘Caps took control from there.
They ended up outshooting Atlanta 9-3 in the first half and entered halftime with a deserved 2-1 lead thanks to a pair of goals from Waston.
First, the ‘Caps captain showed a deft touch in the box after a lovely chipped cross from Andrew Jacobson and finished from the top of the six to level the match in the 31st minute – Waston’s first goal with his foot since joining MLS in 2014. Then, just before the break, he soared over a defender to head in a Cristian Techera corner and put Vancouver ahead in the 44th minute.
Atlanta nearly got one back in first-half stoppage time, when Carlos Caroma got on the end of a Miguel Amiron free kick. But unlike a week ago the woodwork proved in Vancouver’s favour as Caroma’s header rung off the crossbar.
The ‘Caps did not let up after the break.
After a pair of chances from Montero and Christian Bolanos, they eventually netted an insurance marker in the 68th minute on another corner. Waston got on the end of it again, this time heading it across the face of goal to his centre back partner Tim Parker. United keeper Alec Kann swatted Parker’s header off the goalline, or at least appeared to upon first glance, but Montero roofed the rebound to give Vancouver a two-goal cushion.
And they would hold onto the lead, thanks in part to a pair of key blocks from Parker and Waston, en route to their sixth win of the season.
After a week off for the FIFA international break, Whitecaps FC return to action on Saturday, June 17 vs. FC Dallas (7 p.m. PT at BC Place.