MLS is Back: Whitecaps stun Fire to earn surprise spot in knockout rounds

MLS is Back: Whitecaps stun Fire to earn surprise spot in knockout rounds

Major League Soccer

MLS is Back: Whitecaps stun Fire to earn surprise spot in knockout rounds

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The Vancouver Whitecaps stunned the Chicago Fire after a prolonged weather delay on Thursday and punched their ticket into the next round with two quick-fire goals in the second half.

The Whitecaps went into the game without both of their first-choice goalkeepers in addition to missing out on a host of other regulars, including their talisman Lucas Cavallini. Having lost their two first games of the MLS is Back tournament, Marc Dos Santo’s men needed to win by two goals to progress and did just that.

In many ways, Thursday’s affair was a tale of two halves with the Whitecaps looking a completely different team upon their return from the weather delay. Substitute Yordy Reyna opened the scoring in the 63rd minute after rounding Kenneth Kronholm and tapping it into the open net.

Reyna was not done there and assumed the role of provider just eight minutes later. The Peruvian played an onrushing Cristian Dájome through on goal and the Whitecaps forward made no mistake about it, slotting home expertly.

The Chicago Fire were nearly handed a lifeline in the 84th minute when C.J. Sapong cut Vancouver’s lead in half. The forward’s effort, however, was later waived off after video review due to a handball.

Raphaël Wicky’s men went into the game in the driver’s seat, capable of progressing with a win, a draw or a one-goal loss. The Fire started off the MLS is Back tournament brightly, defeating the reigning champions Seattle Sounders but were unable to translate their efforts into progression.

The Whitecaps will now await the final games of group stage action to see their next opponent.

Man of the Match

Yordy Reyna: The Vancouver Whitecaps attacker had an instant impact off the bench, netting an impressive goal and registering an assist to help Dos Santos’s men progress against all the odds.

Moment of the Match

Weather Delay: The 90-minute weather delay undoubtedly changed the complexion of the game, giving the Whitecaps newfound belief. This affair might have turned out differently without it.

Match to Forget

C.J. Sapong: The veteran forward will be kicking himself for handling the ball on the Fire’s disallowed goal, as Wicky’s men would have progressed otherwise. But on a day in which most of the Fire’s frontmen misfired, it’s hard to put the blame solely on the 31-year-old.

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