Vancouver Whitecaps FC settled for a 1-1 draw against Chicago Fire at SeatGeek Stadium on Friday evening after the video assistant referee (VAR) awarded the Fire a penalty kick in the final minutes to draw level.
The ‘Caps were minutes away from securing their first victory of the season when the match came to a pause in the 82nd minute and the VAR ruled a handball against ‘Caps centre back Doneil Henry inside the box.
Nemanja Nikolic scored the equalizer from the spot, ruining an otherwise solid road performance for Vancouver. The ‘Caps, led by Henry and goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, did not concede an open play goal for the third time in six matches this season.
Whitecaps FC took the driver seat shortly after halftime, controlling possession in the Chicago half and were rewarded when Fire goalkeeper David Ousted chased a long cross to the edge of his box. The former ‘Caps player was unable to firmly carom the ball, spilling it to Yordy Reyna, who was clinical in finishing his first goal of the season.
Joaquín Ardaiz came off the Vancouver bench and came inches from putting the match away for the ‘Caps in the 75th minute, beating Ousted’s outstretched arms but not the crossbar on a breakaway.
This kept Chicago within striking distance, and the home side capitalized on the VAR ruling late to pull even. Crépeau, who was stellar with five saves on the evening, preserved the road point for the ‘Caps with a heroic save on a late C.J. Sapong strike from up close.
Whitecaps FC face a quick turnaround as they host early-season Supporters’ Shield frontrunner Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) at BC Place on Wednesday, April 12.
WFC Man of the Match: Maxime Crépeau
Referee: Jair Marrufo
53’ – VAN – Yordy Reyna
84’ – CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (penalty kick)
Possession: CHI 60.2% – VAN 39.8%
Shots: CHI 23 – VAN 9
Shots on Goal: CHI 6 – VAN 2
Saves: CHI 1 – VAN 5
Fouls: CHI 7 – VAN 10
Offsides: CHI 2 – VAN 1
Corners: CHI 6 – VAN 2
40’ – CHI – Mohammed Adams
79’ – VAN – Maxime Crépeau
1.David Ousted; 4.Johan Kappelhof, 2.Marcelo, 31.Bastian Schweinsteiger, 33.Jeremiah Gutjahr; 19.Mohammed Adams (14.Djordje Mihailovic 66‘), 6.Dax McCarty ©; 9.C.J. Sapong, 20.Nicolás Gaitán (18.Cristian Martínez 74‘), 10.Aleksandar Katai; 23.Nemanja Nikolic
Substitutes not used
45.Richard Sánchez, 12.Amando Moreno, 13.Brandt Bronico, 15.Grant Lillard, 17.Diego Campos
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
16.Maxime Crépeau; 23.Scott Sutter, 22.Érik Godoy, 2.Doneil Henry, 53.Ali Adnan; 8.Felipe Martins, 6.Jon Erice ©, 31.Russell Teibert; 29.Yordy Reyna (7.Lucas Venuto 66‘), 12.Fredy Montero (9.Joaquín Ardaiz 72’), 4.Inbeom Hwang (19.Lass Bangoura 90’+1’)
Substitutes not used
18.Zac MacMath, 13.Derek Cornelius, 28.Jake Nerwinski, 94.Victor “PC” Giro.