VANCOUVER — In a soccer game that was like a heavyweight boxing match Yordy Reyna delivered the knockout punch for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Reyna scored on a pretty header in the 88th minute to give the Whitecaps a 3-2 win over New York City FC in a game full of momentum swings and a little controversy.
"I really wanted to prove myself and play," said Reyna, who has missed most of the regular season with a foot injury.
"Those were four very difficult months with the injury … but I’m pleased with the result we were able to get today."
A sellout crowd of 22,120 at BC Place Stadium watched the Whitecaps take an early lead, fall behind before half time, then battle back to earn the win. A total of eight yellow cards were handed out, five to Vancouver.
"The first half and second half were totally different," said striker Fredy Montero, who scored his team-leading sixth goal to put Vancouver ahead 1-0 in the third minute.
"As a professional soccer player, you don’t see these types of games too often. We are proud of what we did in the second half."
Striker David Villa, on a disputed penalty kick in the 40th minute, and defender Maxime Chanot put New York City ahead 2-1.
Defender Jordan Harvey tied the game in the 54th minute.
Reyna scored his first goal of the year when he directed a cross from fullback Jakob Nerwinski past goalkeeper Eirik Johansen. The native of Chiciayo, Peru, signed with the Whitecaps in the off-season but was injured in the final pre-season game.
He saw his first regular-season action in last weekend’s 4-0 loss to Chicago and came into the game against New York City in the 64th minute.
"I’m very happy to have been able to score my first goal with the Whitecaps," he said. "My teammates were all very supportive of me during my recovery.
"I’m just happy to have been able to contribute to the team today."
Montero said Reyna brings a new offensive dimension to the Whitecaps attack.
"He’s a small guy that can go one-on-one with any big defender," he said. "He can score goals."
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson was thrilled with the victory but frustrated over a penalty kick awarded late in the first half.
Referee Baldomero Toledo drew the wrath of the BC Place crowd by showing a yellow card and awarding the penalty after Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston clipped New York’s Thomas McNamara in the face with his right forearm, which was covered in a cast. McNamara and Whitecap goalkeeper David Ousted collided on the play, leaving both players laying on the pitch for several minutes.
Villa scored his 12th goal of the season on the penalty kick. A frustrated Waston ripped off the cast which protected a hand that had undergone surgery June 23 to repair a fracture.
"It was an awful decision," said Robinson, who was proud of the way his team responded in the second half.
"We weren’t in any doubt it was gong to be a difficult game," he said. "They have top players. We knew it would be difficult and we knew they would have a lot of the ball because they are a possession-oriented team. We hung in there."
New York City FC coach Patrick Vieira said the Whitecaps were better than his team in the second half.
"In the first half we created a lot of chances and we only scored two goals," he said. "When we came back in the second half they were more aggressive. They put us under a lot of pressure.
"Both teams had their own half. The difference was, they took their chances and we didn’t."
The win gives the Whitecaps 24 points from a 7-7-3 record. They move into a tie with the Seattle Sounders for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
New York City FC saw a four-game win streak snapped. They remain third in the Eastern Conference with a 10-6-3 record for 33 points.
NOTES: Vancouver midfielder Matias Laba was suspended for the match after receiving a red card in Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Chicago. â€¦ Defenders Sam Adekugbe and Marcel de Jong along with midfielders Alphonso Davies and Russell Teibert missed the game after being called up to play for Canada’s national team at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. â€¦The Whitecaps next match is July 19 against the L.A. Galaxy at StubHub Center.