Too late for 2018 playoffs, but Whitecaps pleased by late-season effort

LOS ANGELES – Going down two goals in the first fifteen minutes on a hot afternoon in a rowdy Banc of California Stadium atmosphere Sunday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC could have easily conceded a third goal and handed the points to the home side.

Instead, the ‘Caps scored goals on both sides of the halftime whistle and wrangled away a point from postseason-bound expansion team LAFC in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.

“I think they proved this afternoon what kind of team they are,” interim head coach Craig Dalrymple said of his side in his postgame interview. “It could easily have gone under after the first 12 to 15 minutes and they fought back.”

The draw wasn’t enough to save the visitors from being officially eliminated from the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs but for Dalrymple, the performance was another indicator of a trend he’s seen during his four matches in charge: “I think we’ve got better with every game.”

The Whitecaps had a mixed bag of results across the season, but especially since the start of August, a month where they beat Portland and San Jose (twice), drew against both New York clubs, but ultimately lost to Toronto FC on aggregate in the Canadian Championship final.

A coaching change came in September after a pair of 2-1 losses saw the ‘Caps fall to playoff rivals FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders. Head coach Carl Robinson and the club parted ways — after 200 games and nearly five full seasons — just before Vancouver visited the LA Galaxy, their principal rival for the final spot in the Western Conference.

Vancouver fell 3-0 in Carson during that first game in charge for Dalrymple before bouncing back on the road against Toronto FC earlier this month to keep their playoff hopes alive.

But after going toe-to-toe for an hour against conference leading Sporting KC on Wednesday, a late implosion and a 4-1 loss threw Vancouver’s postseason possibilities into serious doubt.

Failure to beat LAFC on Sunday meant the ‘Caps will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in eight seasons in MLS but with only their Decision Day presented by AT&T match left on the schedule (4:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info) — against Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers, no less — Vancouver have a simple mindset.

“They promised me five strong performances,” Dalrymple said. “They’ve given us four and I’m sure they’ll deliver the fifth.”

Captain Kendall Waston agreed.

“We want to win the last game in our house. We’ll see what happens next year but hopefully we can win next week to go into the offseason calm.”