June 23rd, 2024

Kreilach scores in injury time, Vancouver Whitecaps down Colorado Rapids 2-1

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on June 1, 2024.

Vancouver Whitecaps' Mathias Laborda (2) vies for the ball as he jumps over Colorado Rapids' Darren Yapi (77) during the first half of an MLS soccer match in Vancouver, on Saturday, June 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

VANCOUVER – Damir Kreilach scored in the first minute of injury time and the Vancouver Whitecaps grabbed a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids on Saturday.

The ‘Caps (7-5-4) appeared poised to settle for a draw until Kreilach – who came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute – put a shot through Rapids goalkeeper Zack Steffen for the win.

Sebastian Berhalter also scored for Vancouver, while Djordje Mihailovic replied for Colorado (6-7-4).

Whitecaps ‘keeper Yohei Takaoka registered two saves and Steffen had one for the Rapids.

The result gave Vancouver a three-point buffer over Colorado in the Western Conference standings heading into next week’s international break.

Brian White came close to giving the Whitecaps an early lead Saturday with a touch at the top of the penalty area that got past Steffen and skittered just wide of the post.

The American striker has five goals on the season, but hasn’t scored since April 27 when the ‘Caps visited his former club, the New York Red Bulls.

Colorado seemed poised for a prime opportunity in the 33rd minute after Rapids striker Kevin Cabral collided with Mathias Laborda in the penalty area. Referee Michael Venne called for a penalty kick, but after a video review, the call was overturned.

The Rapids nearly got on the board in first-half injury time when Cabral fired a right-footed shot from the centre of the box. Takaoka stretched out and got a toe on the ball, sending it just wide to keep the game scoreless heading into the locker rooms.

Fans were still filtering to their seats when Vancouver scored in the 46th minute.

Canadian midfielder Ali Ahmed sent the ball to Ryan Gauld near the penalty area and the Scottish attacking midfielder dished it off to Berhalter as he darted into the six-yard box. The American midfielder leapt up and deflected the ball in past Steffen with his right foot to give the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

The advantage didn’t last long.

Colorado’s Omir Fernandez sent a pass to Mihailovic alone at the top of the six-yard box and the Rapids’ sniper fired a right-footed shot in to level the score at 1-1 in the 50th minute.

Whitecaps newcomer Giuseppe Bovalina came off the bench and played hero in the 85th minute.

Fernandez blasted a shot that hit the post and fell to the turf and began rolling toward the net. Bovalina darted in and booted the ball out of play before it could cross the goal line.

The Australian wingback made his third appearance on Saturday after signing with the ‘Caps in late April.

As the final seconds of regulation time ticked down, Gauld fed Kreilach at the top of the six-yard box and the midfielder unleashed a shot that hit Steffen before trickling in over the goal line.

It was Kreilach’s second goal of the season and came in his first appearance since suffering a sprained ankle.

Colorado had another chance to get a goal back with a free kick in a dangerous area in the fourth minute of added time, but Mihailovic sent a shot over the crossbar.

Both sides will return to action on June 15 when the Whitecaps visit the New England Revolution and the Rapids host Austin FC.

NOTES: Saturday’s matchup concluded a busy stretch that saw the Whitecaps play nine games in six cities across 29 days. “¦ An announced crowd of 22,979 took in the game at B.C. Place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2024.

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