The Whitecaps, playing in their third-ever CCL (courtesy of winning the 2022 Canadian Championship), will bring the five-goal aggregate cushion into the return leg at Real España’s Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on March 15 (6 pm ET | FS2, TUDN).
After a nervy opening 10 minutes that required some expert goalkeeping from Yohei Takaoka, Vancouver quickly regained control. In the 21st minute, center back Tristan Blackmon broke the deadlock for the hosts, heading home a looped cross from Julian Gressel that developed from a short corner routine.
It was one-way traffic for the Whitecaps from there as the home side continued to pepper Real España’s goal throughout the first half, just missing out on doubling their lead through chances from Pedro Vite and Cristian Dájome.
The floodgates opened in the second half, as Vancouver doubled their lead thanks to a Ryan Raposo laced shot from outside the box that tucked into the bottom left corner in the 59th minute. Just five minutes later, they got a third, with Dájome centering a ball from inside the box that was turned home for an own goal by Real España’s Devron Garcia.
Vité slammed the door with a fourth goal in the 70th minute and substitute striker Brian White added a fifth in the 77th, giving España a lofty deficit to overcome in Leg 2. The Honduran side will have to win by at least five goals to have a hope of advancing to the CCL quarterfinals.
- THE BIG PICTURE: Road matches are notoriously challenging in CCL, so the Whitecaps did themselves a major favor with the comprehensive performance, earning a five-goal cushion they'll bring to Honduras. That big lead may even allow them to field a rotated lineup and make it easier to put out a first-choice squad against FC Dallas in Saturday's Matchday 3 (5 pm ET | MLS Season Pass), as well as offer up some positive momentum as they look to turn around a league campaign which began with two straight losses.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: In the end, it all looked pretty easy for the Whitecaps. But a comfortable win may have been anything but had Takaoka not come up with this massive save in the 8th minute to keep the visitors off the board.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Left back Ryan Raposo made his presence felt in his first start of 2023, beginning the Whitecaps' second-half onslaught with a bullseye outside-of-the-box finish to give Vancouver the 2-0 lead and ending it with an assist on the team’s fifth and final goal.