MLS 🔵 Whitecaps edge Pacific in opening leg of Canadian Championship semifinal | TSN – Shango Media

MLS 🔵 Whitecaps edge Pacific in opening leg of Canadian Championship semifinal | TSN

MLS 🔵 Whitecaps edge Pacific in opening leg of Canadian Championship semifinal | TSN

LANGFORD, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA — It was a battle of the young Canadian ‘keepers Wednesday as the Vancouver Whitecaps blanked Pacific FC 1-0 in Canadian Championship semifinal action.

The Major League Soccer side now holds the lead in the two-game aggregate series, with Canadian Premier League’s Pacific set to visit Vancouver for the second leg on Aug. 27.

Wednesday’s lone goal came in the 58th minute when Mathias Laborda sent a long cross into the penalty area, and Ryan Gauld leapt up to flick a glancing header into the back of the Pacific net.

Vancouver ‘keeper Isaac Boehmer preserved the victory with a series of saves as Pacific made a late push.

“We never thought it was going to be easy. But we just came, we did what we needed to do and we’re ready for the second leg, » said the 22-year-old Boehmer, who stopped all-five on-target shots he faced to collect his first clean sheet for the ‘Caps.

At the other end of the field, Pacific’s Emil Gazdov made four saves, including a highlight-reel-worthy effort in the 49th minute.

Brian White sent a blistering header in from the top of the six-yard box, only to see the 20-year-old netminder dive sideways and poke the ball out of harm’s way. The American striker appeared to respond with disbelief, simply shaking his head in response.

Gazdov was circumspect about the play.

“I don’t want to say it’s routine, but I do it a lot in training. Just reading the situation — ball comes across, header, react. Not much to really say about it, » he said. « Happy I got a finger on it to get it around the post.”

Vancouver comes into the tournament having hoisted the Voyageurs Cup in both 2022 and 2023, but this year’s campaign hasn’t been smooth.

The ‘Caps faced Cavalry FC of the CPL in the quarterfinals and advanced on away goals after Cavalry took a 1-0 victory in the second leg to tie the aggregate score at 2-2.

Pacific earned a spot in the semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate win over fellow CPL team Atletico Ottawa.

The tournament’s other semifinal Wednesday saw CPL side Forge FC upset struggling MLS club Toronto FC with a 2-1 scoreline.

Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini referenced the result in his pre-game speech.

“I used that as motivation, » he said. « I used that game and also the second leg that played Vancouver against Cavalry when, to be honest, our performance was so bad that we were at risk to get out (of the quarterfinals).”

This year marks the third time Pacific and the Whitecaps have faced off in the annual tournament.

The first matchup saw Pacific stun Vancouver 4-3 in preliminary-round action back in 2021. The ‘Caps went on to take a 3-0 victory in the semifinals last year.

Both teams return to league play this weekend, with the Whitecaps visiting St. Louis City and Pacific heading to Hamilton to face Forge.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

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