June 23rd, 2024

Real Salt Lake edges Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in MLS season opener

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on February 25, 2023.

Real Salt Lake's Bryan Oviedo (left) grabs a hold of Vancouver Whitecaps FC's Ryan Gauld during first half MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, February 25, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam

VANCOUVER – Damir Kreilach scored to complete a 2-1 come-from-behind victory for Real Salt Lake as the club opened the Major League Soccer season against the Whitecaps in Vancouver on Saturday.

The Whitecaps (0-1-0) got off to a strong start, controlling much of the play through the first 45 minutes.

A goal from Javain Brown in the 25th minute gave Vancouver the advantage heading into halftime.

But RSL (1-0-0) burst into the second half with renewed energy and scored twice in two minutes, with Justen Glad and Kreilach each finding the back of the net.

Goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka made five saves in his debut for the Whitecaps and Zac MacMath stopped six shots for Real Salt Lake.

Vancouver outshoot the visitors 18-11 across the game, and each team registered seven shots on target.

Salt Lake took the lead in the 72nd minute when Vancouver failed to clear the ball from the box.

Jefferson Savarino sliced a pass to Kreilach and the RSL captain blasted a left-footed shot into the back of the ‘Caps net from the centre of the box.

The visitors knotted the score at 1-1 two minutes earlier when Maikel Chang sailed a pass into the penalty area, over the heads of the leaping Whitecaps’ defenders. The ball fell at Glad’s foot as he slid toward the net, putting a shot in behind Takaoka.

Takaoka had kept Vancouver ahead, despite increased pressure from Salt Lake early in the second half.

One of his best saves of the night came in the 58th minute when Savarino sent a cross in to Marcelo Silva and the defender put a header on net from the centre of the box. From his knees, the Whitecaps ‘keeper punched the ball away.

The Whitecaps were the dominant side across much of the first 45 minutes, controlling 56.2 per cent of the possession and outshooting the visitors 6-1 in on-target shots.

Real Salt Lake made a push in the final minutes of the opening half and nearly levelled the score in the 42nd minute.

Chang took a corner, sending a ball into the box. Silva got a head on it, directing a shot just wide of the post for the visitors’ best chance of the half.

The ‘Caps opened the scoring in the 25th minute off their fourth corner kick of the night.

Julian Gressel curled a ball into the box, where Brown headed a shot down, catching a piece of McMath’s outstretched hand on the way into the corner of the net.

The goal was Brown’s second in MLS and his first at B.C. Place.

The Whitecaps will be back in action on March 4, taking on the Earthquakes in San Jose.

FOOTNOTES: Real Salt Lake’s Jasper Loffelsend was shown the yellow card in the 14th minute after taking down Cristian Dajome as he sprinted up the field. “¦ Newly signed striker Sergio Cordova made his debut for the Whitecaps, coming on for Gressel in the 77th minute. “¦ Takaoka became the first Japanese goalkeeper to play in MLS. “¦ An announced crowd of 19,614 took in the game at B.C. Place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2023.

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