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Whitecaps concede late goals in loss to Real Salt Lake

Damir Kreilach Vancouver Whitecaps Damir Kreilach (19) - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — A lack of intensity stopped the Vancouver Whitecaps from writing some franchise history Saturday night.

The Whitecaps conceded a pair of second-half goals in a 2-1 loss to Real Salt Lake for their first defeat of the Major League Soccer season. The loss also prevented Vancouver from setting a club record for points in the first four games of an MLS season.

Vancouver took the lead in the 33rd minute when midfielder Damir Kreilach scored against his former teammates.

Salt Lake fought back with midfielder Fidel Barajas setting up goals by striker Anderson Julio and defender Alexandros Katranis about six minutes apart in the second half.

“It was a flat performance from us,” said Vancouver captain Ryan Gauld. “We had bad moments. We kind of picked things up a wee bit, but the second half especially, I think we didn't have enough intensity.

“We didn't keep the ball long enough. To be honest, I wouldn't say we deserve much from the game."

Assistant coach Michael D’Agostino, who was filling in for suspended head coach Vanni Sartini, said after a sluggish start the Whitecaps found their legs, but players seemed to abandon the game plan when Real Salt Lake began taking over the play.

“During a time period where we needed to do the things that we do on a regular basis both defensively and offensively, for whatever reason the boys kind of decided to do everything on their own and (got) away from the plan.

“When things aren’t going our way, we almost need to reset and just go back to the tactics. Unfortunately, it didn’t really happen. We just got a little caught doing the kinds of things we don’t normally do.”

Gauld denied the Whitecaps began playing as individuals.

“I don’t think we’ve got the kind of individuals that are going to take everything on their back and try and solve it themselves,” he said. “We just couldn’t get going with the ball.”

The loss, before an announced crowd of 22,178 at BC Place Stadium, drops Vancouver into fourth place in the Western Conference with seven points (2-1-1). A win would have given the Whitecaps 10 points in four games and better the eight points they had when they started the 2014 and 2012 seasons with 2-0-2 records.

Real Salt Lake (2-2-1) climbed into fifth place in the Western Conference.

Kreilach opened the scoring after striker Brian White threaded a pass through a couple of Salt Lake defenders. He beat goalkeeper Zac MacMath with a left-footed shot from the centre of the box.

It was Kreilach’s first MLS goal as a Whitecap since the former Salt Lake captain joined Vancouver at the end of December after playing six seasons in Utah.

Kreilach also became the seventh Whitecap player to score this season.

Gauld said the goal made the Whitecaps look better than they deserved.

“The goal maybe papered over a few cracks at the start of the game,” he said.

“Apart from the goal, I don’t remember us creating too much. Defensively we could not get enough pressure on the ball.”

Juilo made it 1-1 in the 70th minute when he took a pass from Barajas, fought off a Vancouver defender, and beat goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka with a low, hard shot.

Salt Lake went ahead when Katranis scored in the 76th minute on a left-footed shot from the side of the box that floated over Takaoka’s fingers.

The Whitecap attack was shaken when White left the game in 56th minute with a concussion substitute.

D’Agostino couldn’t say after the game if White had suffered a concussion.

“He’s still being analyzed,” he said, “It’s just more waiting to see what the medical staff come back with."


Guald, the Whitecaps captain, made his 100th appearance for Vancouver across all competitions. … Sartini served the final game of a suspension for his on-field actions and post-game comments following the Whitecaps' playoff loss to Los Angeles FC in November. … The Whitecaps exceeded 20,000 fans for a fourth consecutive home match at BC Place dating back to last season. … The two goals the Whitecaps allowed during their first three games are the least since 2014.


The Whitecaps play their next three MLS games at home, against Portland next Saturday, Toronto on April 6, and the L.A. Galaxy on April 13.

Real Salt Lake faces St. Louis City at home next Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2024.