"I had goosebumps": Vancouver savor BC Place return with dramatic win

Ryan Raposo had made 30 MLS appearances across his two seasons as a professional, but Saturday night marked the first time the Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder played before supporters at BC Place.

Vancouver's match against LAFC was the first time in 539 days they heard their supporters’ voices echoing through home confines. Cross-border travel challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic meant they'd previously set up a home away from home at Real Salt Lake's Rio Tinto Stadium.

“Coming out for the warmups, I had goosebumps right away,” Raposo said. “We’ve kind of gotten used to playing away [and] kind of forgot what it's like to be home.”

The Whitecaps, who played 31 consecutive matches away from BC Place, rewarded their fans with a spirited 2-1 win. It was the club’s second straight victory – a first this season – and Vancouver extended their unbeaten streak to a club record-tying eight matches.

“We had to win our fans back, you know we have a lot of job to do to win the fanbase back because we've been far from them – we've struggled,” Whitecaps coach Marc dos Santos said. “So the win is important just to get them back.”

Dos Santos also called it a “fairytale story” for new signing Ryan Gauld, with the Designated Player coming off the bench for the second half and scoring the 89th-minute winner, his first MLS goal.

“The most important thing was the three points,” Gauld said. “To play here in front of the fans for the first time at this stadium was a really good feeling. I know all the boys have missed playing here in front of the fans. So to get the opportunity to do it today was brilliant, so hopefully we sent them all home happy.”

Dos Santos also lauded the ‘Caps resolve, for battling back from conceding a stoppage-time penalty kick in the first half to scoring twice in the second half for the win, their first in front of fans at BC Place since Sept. 14, 2019.

“I can't say it more, the spirit of the guys,” Dos Santos said. “Everybody feeling important that they play the role when they have to play it, starting or coming off the bench. There was a huge impact from the substitutions tonight.”

The win puts Vancouver level with ninth-place LAFC on 23 points, three below the Western Conference playoff line. And nine of their final 15 regular-season games will be at BC Place.

“It’s always good to receive a nice response from the crowd and thankfully we’ve paid them back today for the support they’ve given us, and we’ll be looking to carry on like that and pay them back because they’ve shown up in numbers today,” Gauld said. “We’re very happy that we’ve sent them home happy.”