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Whitecaps 1, Toronto FC 0: Mother’s Day heroics from Ricketts snaps Caps losing skid

Tosaint Ricketts roofed a pass from Lucas Cavallini in the 90th minute to give the Caps a dramatic 11th-hour win over Toronto FC at B.C. Place on Mother’s Day.

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The Vancouver Whitecaps played like a bunch of Mothers on Sunday.

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“I said to the players after the game that the way you have played today, it’s like a bunch of mothers,” said head coach Vanni Sartini. “Mothers care, mothers fight for their kids, they’re tough, and they need to be tough. So I’m really happy that they showed on the field that we played like a bunch of mothers.

“Like the best mother, my mama,” he concluded, just a few minutes after talking with his parents on FaceTime.

And mothers don’t give up, as it took until the 90th minute for the Caps to finally break through, and it came off the boot of substitute striker Tosaint Ricketts, slamming home the winner in a 1-0 decision over Toronto FC at B.C. Place.

He was robbed of a game-tying goal in the dying minutes against Montreal, on Sunday he stole three points for the Whitecaps on Mother’s Day.

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Ricketts’ first goal of the year sent Toronto (3-6-2) to its fourth straight loss, while ending the Caps’ (2-6-1) own three-game skid.

To say this stretch of games is gargantuan in the Caps’ season would be underselling it. Aside from Wednesday’s Canadian Championship game against Valour, the Caps have three league home games, and anything short of six points from them and it feels like you could put pennies on the eyes of their playoff chances.


NEXT GAME

Wednesday

Canadian Championship

Valour FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps

7 p.m., B.C. PlaceTV: Onesoccer.ca, Radio: AM730


The first half was a mostly uninspired performance that one German member of the local media, watching from afar, deemed “Langweilig” and went back to eating bratwurst.

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Vancouver had just 41 per cent possession and a pass completion of 79 per cent, but did have the two best scoring chances of the half, both of which forced big saves from Toronto’s Alex Bono.

The game opened up in the second half, and brought the announced crowd of 17,709 in the stadium to their feet when Ricketts’ wounded the winner home.

Here’s what we learned …


Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal leaves the field with an injury as Dr. Dory Boyer supports his hand with a towel during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 8, 2022.
Vancouver Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal leaves the field with an injury as Dr. Dory Boyer supports his hand with a towel during the second half of an MLS soccer game against Toronto FC in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 8, 2022. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

HARD LUCK HASAL

Toronto’s best scoring chance in the first half came after Ranko Veselinović was whistled for a handball. Referee Victor Rivas initially missed the call until video referee Malik Badawi alerted him to the infraction.

Alejandro Pozuelo had been admonishing Hasal for what he’d deemed simulation, and their conversation continued right up until the Toronto designated player took the kick.

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Pozuelo’s effort, a weak strike that only a mother could love, was ‘sMothered’ by Hasal to keep the game scoreless.

It looked like Pozuelo had gotten his revenge in the 70th minute, when Jayden Nelson banged home a rebound off a Pozuelo shot that Hasal had spilled, but Rivas waved it off for an apparent foul. On replay, the decision seemed as offensive as a bad Yo Momma joke.

“It’s a mistake,” said Toronto head coach Bob Bradley. “That’s on the VAR to see it. It’s clear. Everybody that seen it realizes that Hasal never had control. It’s too bad … they say he might have broken or dislocated his finger; that’s too bad, but that might have been … on the shot as the ball came loose. He never had control. It’s a good goal.

“The system failed. You can have a system but if the person responsible in that moment can’t see that, then then the system doesn’t work. So we’ll see what PRO has to say about it. But for me, it’s a clear mistake.”

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Hasal left the game with a hand injury, and was replaced by Cody Cropper, who made a game-saving stop on a looping header to the far post just seconds after coming on.

Hasal has had bad luck with injuries, breaking his leg and suffering a concussion in 2020, costing him 12 games that year. Sartini said Hasal’s status isn’t clear yet, but he had a splint on one of the fingers on his left hand.


Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono (25) and defender Shane O’Neill (27) defend against Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld (25) during the first half at B.C. Place.
Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono (25) and defender Shane O’Neill (27) defend against Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Gauld (25) during the first half at B.C. Place. Photo by Anne-Marie Sorvin /USA TODAY Sports

BY THE NUMBERS

8: Number of regular players Toronto was missing from the game. They started two 19-year-olds and two former Canadian Premier League players in Lukas McNaughton and Kadin Chung. Both played for Pacific FC last year.

5: The number of times the Whitecaps have outshot their opponent this year. They held a 15-9 advantage, and 6-4 on target. It’s a surprising stat considering they came into the game last in the league in shots (86, tied with TFC) and shots on target. They also held a 1.8-1.3 expected goals (xG) advantage.

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561: The number of days since Ricketts’ last scored a goal for Vancouver. That goal was also a game-winner, coming in the 57th minute of a 2-1 win over San Jose on Oct. 24, 2020.

19: The number of touches Ryan Raposo had in his 20 minutes of play off the bench. It was also the number of touches striker Brian White had before coming off in the 70th minute.

4: The Whitecaps played with a back four for the first time this season, and first time since 45 minutes had elapsed in Sartini’s first game in charge last year. The formation switch saw them defend in a 4-2-2-2, and attack in a “3 1/2,” as Sartini put it. Fullback Javain Brown would get high on the right side, allowing Ryan Gauld to move inside as a No. 10, turning the formation essentially into a 3-4-1-2. They’ll roll it out against Valour and San Jose.

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Vancouver Whitecaps’ Tosaint Ricketts blows a kiss to the crowd as he celebrates his goal against Toronto FC during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 8, 2022.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Tosaint Ricketts blows a kiss to the crowd as he celebrates his goal against Toronto FC during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, May 8, 2022. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

DISCRETION OVER VALOUR

It’s a short week for Vancouver, who host Canadian Premier League side Valour FC on Wednesday night in their first Canadian Championship game of the season.

Valour (1-1-2) are currently sixth in the standings, playing to a scoreless tie in their last game out.

That game is as massive as next Saturday’s game against San Jose, who are two points up on Vancouver.

“(Wednesday’s game) is very important … because there is no appeal. Let me be clear: Wednesday is the most important game of the year,” Sartini said of the do-or-die game against Valour.

“If we lose, we are out of the Canadian Championships. That is a competition that we want to try to win. We need to have extreme respect for Valour and go with all our guns there … because the last two Canadian Championship campaigns have been very disappointing for the club. We need to change that.”

jadams@postmedia.com

twitter.com/TheRealJJAdams


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