Vancouver Whitecaps FC stormed back after a lengthy weather delay to overcome odds and qualify for the Knockout Stage at the MLS is Back Tournament with a 2-0 victory over Chicago Fire FC on Thursday morning.
The match came to a nail-biting finish, including two Whitecaps FC goals after the break as well as a Chicago Fire FC goal that was overturned by VAR in the final 10 minutes of regulation at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The ‘Caps now advance to the Round of 16 on Sunday, July 26. They will face either Group C winner Toronto FC at 5:30 p.m. PT or Group D winner Sporting Kansas City at 8 p.m. PT.
The match came to a pause after seeing nearby lightning strikes shortly after the hour mark but the ‘Caps came back from the break with a pep in their step with the insertion of substitutes Cristian Dájome and Yordy Reyna.
Within minutes of the resumption of play, Ali Adnan slipped a ball through to an advancing Reyna, who eluded Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm and slotted in the crucial opening score.
Then in the 71st minute, it was the two connecting once again, as Adnan headed a ball ahead to Reyna, who chested it down then popped a forward pass to a sprinting Dájome. The Colombian scored his second goal of the tournament and gave the ‘Caps the two-goal advantage they needed to advance.
Fire striker CJ Sapong appeared to have played spoiler when he muscled a rebounded ball into the ‘Caps net but video review showed that the ball was pushed in with his arm, keeping the scoreline at 2-0.
The ‘Caps defence did the rest, staying firm against the Fire attack. 21-year old Homegrown goalkeeper Thomas Hasal recorded four saves to complete the clean sheet in his first MLS start in place of injured starter Maxime Crépeau.
Chicago Fire FC
18.Kenneth Kronholm; 11.Przemyslaw Frankowski, 2.Boris Sekulić, 22.Mauricio Pineda (28.Elliot Collier 76’), 5.Francisco Calvo ©, 3.Jonathan Bornstein (6.Miguel Ángel Navarro 60’); 21.Fabian Herbers, 30.Gastón Giménez, 10.Álvaro Medrán; 7.Ignacio Aliseda (9.CJ Sapong 59’), 27.Robert Berić
Substitutes not used
1.Bobby Shuttleworth, 24.Connor Sparrow, 13.Brandt Bronico, 14.Djordje Mihailović, 20.Wyatt Omsberg, 25.Nicholas Slonina, 36.Andre Reynolds, 37.Javier Casas, 40.Brian Gutierrez
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
51.Thomas Hasal; 28.Jake Nerwinski, 20.Jasser Khmiri (11.Cristian Dájome 45’+3’), 4.Ranko Veselinović, 13.Derek Cornelius, 53.Ali Adnan; 6.Inbeom Hwang, 17.Leonard Owusu (3.Cristián Gutiérrez 63’), 31.Russell Teibert ©; 14.Theo Bair (7.David Milinković 62’), 27.Ryan Raposo (29.Yordy Reyna 57’)
Substitutes not used
40.Jonathan Sirois, 32.Patrick Metcalfe, 54.Simon Colyn, 55.Michael Baldisimo, 62.Damiano Pecile