In a near-replica of their August 18 bout in Austin, Austin FC got a first-half goal via Sebastian Driussi, but Vancouver Whitecaps FC roared back with two second-half goals from Erik Godoy and Deiber Caicedo for the 2-1 win at BC Place on Saturday evening, extending their unbeaten run to 10 matches.
Austin looked the more threatening side during the first half, and they earned their due reward just before the break. Tomas Pochettino was the catalyst for the opening goal involving all three of ATX's Designated Players. He took a ball out wide and passed it centrally to Cecilio Dominguez, who sent an alley-oop pass to Driussi in the 45th minute. He deftly headed it past Thomas Hasal, taking over goalkeeping duties while Maxime Crepeau is out on international duty, to put Austin ahead 1-0 going into halftime.
Vancouver became a little more lively close to the hour mark, with Ryan Gauld getting close on a cross-turned-shot that Brad Stuver tipped onto the crossbar and over, and then Gauld nearly assisted Florian Jungwirth on the subsequent corner.
That led to a chess move by Austin head coach Josh Wolff, who brought on Jhohan Romana as a third center back to enable an eventual move to a 5-4-1 formation. But Stuver needed to register a double save just a few minutes later, with Brian White isolating Stuver following an Austin giveaway, and then Gauld firing at goal on the rebound.
And then, in the 70th minute, Godoy got the equalizer that was coming, heading in a cross from a streaking Cristian Dajome. Both teams kicked into higher gear after that, with the 'Caps looking like they'd taken the lead in the 78th minute, when Caicedo chipped Stuver, only for Julio Cascante to make a sliding goal-line clearance.
But Caicedo got his goal five minutes later after Gauld's shot was parried by Stuver right into his path. And despite Austin's efforts to avoid the déjà vu of 17 days prior, the match ended with the exact same scoreline and momentum swing as their last encounter.
- THE BIG PICTURE: They might be led by interim coach Vanni Sartini, but the ‘Caps are on a 10-match unbeaten streak (four straight wins) and sit eighth in the West (just below the final playoff spot). Austin face increasingly long odds to make the playoffs, and despite showing the talent and offensive guile they’re capable of in the first half, the expansion club also showed the inconsistency in the second half that’s plagued them during the 2021 season.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It was very nearly Julio Cascante's clearance on what should have been a Deiber Caicedo goal. But the Colombian winger's actual goal was the difference-maker.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Gauld, in only his second MLS start, showed why he’s been so essential to Vancouver since joining during the summer transfer window. The "Scottish Messi" didn't get a goal or an assist, but was everyone for the home side.