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Whitecaps lose 1-0 to Cavalry, but advance to Voyageurs Cup semifinals

Cavalry FC's Sergio Camargo, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps' Luís Martins, right, compete for ball possession during the first half of a Canadian Championship quarterfinal soccer match, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns Cavalry FC's Sergio Camargo, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps' Luís Martins, right, compete for ball possession during the first half of a Canadian Championship quarterfinal soccer match, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns
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The Vancouver Whitecaps are still alive in their quest for three consecutive Canadian Championships.

But Vanni Sartini didn’t pull any punches when assessing his team’s 1-0 loss to Cavalry FC on Tuesday at BC Place.

“I think we need to apologize to our fans for our performance,” said the Whitecaps coach. “That was shameful.

“When one team tries to win that and the other team is very casual, that's a recipe for the game that happened here.”

After taking the first leg of their Canadian Championship quarterfinal with a 2-1 road win over Cavalry on May 7, the Whitecaps held control of the outcome of the two-match tie, with away goals counting double if needed as a tiebreaker.

Tuesday’s only scoring was an own goal by Whitecaps defender Ranko Veselinovic on goalkeeper Isaac Boehmer, in the 32nd minute. A cross attempt from attacker William Akio deflected into the net off Veselinovic.

Through the physical match, yellow cards were shown to the Whitecaps’ Pedro Vite and Ali Ahmed, and to Cavalry’s Jesse Daley, Lleyton Brooks, Daan Klomp and Sergio Camargo.

As he was in Calgary, Boehmer was tapped as goalkeeper. It was the second start of the year for the 22-year-old from Penticton, B.C., with Vancouver’s top team, up against Calgary native Marco Carducci on the other side.

The aggregate total over the two-match tie was 2-2, but the Whitecaps held the 2-1 edge in goals on the road.

Cavalry’s win was its second at BC Place, after becoming the first CPL side ever to earn a win against MLS competition with a 2-1 win over the Whitecaps on July 24, 2019.

“I think right now, what I’m feeling is proud,” said Cavalry coach and general manager Tommy Wheeldon Jr. of his team’s effort. “Probably, the disappointment will come through when I watch the game again — how close it could have been. We just needed one more goal.”

Wheeldon praised defender Daan Klomp as his team’s best overall player.

“I think we did pretty well, especially in the first half,” Klomp said. “Second half, I don't think we had enough of the ball to really put on the pressure.”

Back at BC Place for the first time since a scoreless draw against Austin FC on May 4, the Whitecaps struggled to get into good scoring positions for much of the match.

They’ve scored just three goals in their last six games across all competitions. Levonte Johnson, the Whitecaps’ 2023 SuperDraft selection out of Brampton, Ont., scored both goals in Game 1 against Cavalry.

“It’s the worst performance we’ve had in a long time,” said Whitecaps captain Ryan Gauld, who subbed on for the second half. “But there’s no point in dwelling on it. We’re through to the next round and we know we have a big game coming up on Saturday. We know we have to be better.”

The Canadian Championship semifinal will also be a home-and-home series, with games to be played in early July and late August.

The winner of the Canadian Championship qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the elite men's club competition in North and Central America and the Caribbean. The Whitecaps hoisted the Voyageurs Cup in 2022 and 2023.

“We have a moral duty to play the best semifinal we can, whoever is going to be the opposition,” said Sartini, who suggested that in this case, a tiebreaker of penalty kicks might have been more just than the most road goals.

“Whether it’s a CPL team or an MLS team, we need to deserve to be in the semifinal because we don’t deserve to be there with the performance we just gave.”

NOTES

On a rainy Tuesday in Vancouver, with the roof closed at BC Place, attendance was 11,853. That's a fraction of the more than 50,000 fans who are expected when Inter Miami CF plays its first-ever match against the Whitecaps on Saturday, with Lionel Messi expected to make his one and only MLS appearance in Vancouver. … The loss drops the Whitecaps’ record against Canadian opponents across all competitions to 10-2-2 since Sartini took the reins as head coach in August of 2021. … The win is the first of the year on the road for Cavalry. … Also on Tuesday, Toronto FC beat CS St-Laurent 8-1 to advance to the semifinal with an aggregate score of 11-1.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

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