June 19th, 2024

Whitecaps offensive outburst too much for undermanned Toronto FC

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on April 6, 2024.

Vancouver Whitecaps' Ranko Veselinovic, front centre, Ryan Raposo, back left, and Levonte Johnson celebrate Veselinovic's goal against Toronto FC during second half MLS soccer action in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, April 6, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps struck early and often on Saturday, taking a decisive 4-0 victory over Canadian rivals Toronto FC.

Brian White scored for the ‘Caps (4-1-1) in the sixth minute and Fafa Picault followed with a strike in the 29th before Ryan Gauld and Ranko Veselinovic added goals late in the second half.

Alessandro Schopf, Andreas Cubas and Ryan Raposo each tallied an assist.

Toronto (3-3-1) controlled 51.8 per cent of the possession Saturday, but it was Vancouver who dominated the offence, outnumbering the visitors 7-3 in on-target shots.

Whitecaps ‘keeper Yohei Takaoka had three saves to record his second clean sheet of the season.

Sean Johnson had three saves in his return to Toronto’s lineup after missing four games with a hamstring injury.

Toronto has suffered a spate of injuries early this season and was without star attacker Lorenzo Insigne (hamstring), fullback Richie Laryea (hamstring), defender Raoul Petretta (thigh) and midfielder Brandon Servania (knee) on Saturday.

White picked the ball off the foot of midfielder Deybi Flores – a former Whitecap – and sprinted into Toronto territory. The American striker unleashed a right-footed shot near the penalty spot, sending the ball into the bottom left corner of the net to give the home side a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.

The goal was White’s second of the season and came after he was forced to sit out last week’s 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers due to a concussion.

Flores is a familiar face to longtime ‘Caps fans. The Honduran midfielder played for the club from 2015 through 2018.

Toronto’s best chance of the first half came in the 19th minute when Deandre Kerr fired off a shot that hit Takaoka, then ricocheted off the post and out. The Japanese ‘keeper smiled broadly after the play.

White nearly put away his second goal of the game in the 28th minute. Gauld floated a ball into the penalty area and White streaked in to get to it, arriving at the same time as Johnson, who got a touch and poked it out of bounds.

A minute later, Vancouver went up 2-0 when Schopf sent a high pass across the six-yard box and Picault headed it in for his third goal of the year.

The visitors got a prime chance to get on the board after Kerr was tripped while racing toward the ‘Caps net.

Italian attacker Federico Bernardeschi took the ensuing free kick in the 64th minute, sending a ball to the back post where Tyrese Spicer headed it down, only to see the shot blocked by White.

Cubas set up Vancouver’s third goal of the night, getting a long ball to Gauld in the midfield.

Chased by a pair of Toronto defenders, the Scottish attacking midfielder sprinted down the field and went one-on-one with Johnson before sending a low left-footed shot in past the ‘keeper.

The 81st-minute goal was Gauld’s second of the season.

Veselinovic put away his first goal of the season in the 88th minute to give the ‘Caps a 4-0 lead.

Cassius Mailula came off the bench and nearly spoiled Takaoka’s clean sheet in second-half injury time, darting in and taking a dangerous shot from the side of the six-yard box. But Takaoka dove to keep it out of the Vancouver net.

The Whitecaps are set to host the Western Conference-leading L.A. Galaxy next Saturday. Toronto FC will visit Charlotte FC the same day.

NOTES: Toronto defender Nicksoen Gomis returned to the lineup after missing three games with a wrist injury. “¦ Vancouver defender Bjorn Inge Utvik made his first MLS start. The ‘Caps signed the 28-year-old Norwegian in January. “¦ White’s goal was his 41st for the Whitecaps across all competitions, moving him into second place on the club’s list of leading goal scorers in the MLS era. Camilo Sanvezzo holds the record with 43 goals. “¦ A crowd of 24,678 took in the game at BC Place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024.

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