Whitecaps extend lead atop Western Conference after win vs. Rapids


Vancouver Whitecaps' Yordy Reyna. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

VANCOUVER — An hour after Saturday’s final whistle, Yordy Reyna strolled the pitch at an empty B.C. Place Stadium, head buried in his phone.

He could very well have been watching the highlight of yet another game-winning goal.

Reyna scored once and set up another as the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated the lowly Colorado Rapids 2-1 to expand their lead to four points atop Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

The classy Peruvian midfielder dropped a perfect cross onto Fredy Montero’s head for an early lead before the roles were reversed in the second half following Colorado’s equalizer on a Vancouver miscue just before the break.

All five of Reyna’s goals have been game winners, tying him for tops in MLS, but he’s made at least 11 fewer appearances than the other four players at the same number after breaking his foot in pre-season.

"You can see how happy he is when he scores," said Montero, who had his post-match scrum with reporters briefly interrupted by a jovial and Halloween-mask-wearing Reyna.

The Whitecaps (14-9-6) now have 48 points on the year, while the Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City and the Seattle Sounders are tied for second with 44. Seattle lost 2-0 at Real Salt Lake on Saturday, but Portland and Kansas City are both in action at home on Sunday.

"Great character again," said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson, whose team stretched its unbeaten run to seven games (5-0-2). "All players stepped up."

The result was especially crucial with the Whitecaps set to visit the Sounders on Wednesday and then Sporting next Saturday.

After this weekend, Vancouver and Kansas City will both have five games left on the schedule in the race for first in the West, while Seattle will have four, and the Timbers just three.

Dominique Badji replied for the last-place Rapids (7-17-5), who hung around all night after the Whitecaps failed to connect on a number of chances that could have made for a more comfortable scoreline.

"We just want to get as many points on the board as we can," said Robinson. "Sometimes the games against the teams at the wrong end of the table are as hard as the teams at the top end. I made them aware of that."

After the Rapids got Badji’s goal just before halftime, Montero chipped a pass over the top and into the lightning-quick Reyna’s path in the 54th minute.

He left Colorado defender Axel Sjoberg in his wake and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was slow to react off his line, to the loose ball before burying his fifth in just 14 games, and third in the last four.

The Rapids pushed forward and forced a good save out of Whitecaps ‘keeper David Ousted in the 67th minute when Micheal Azira tried his luck from just outside the penalty area.

But that would be as close as Colorado would come as Vancouver improved to 8-2-3 over its last 13 games.

"They’ve got nothing to lose," Robinson said of the Rapids. "They play gung-ho football, which is dangerous.

"I was a little bit worried, but credit to the guys."

Montero opened the scoring in the fourth minute with his 13th goal to tie a career-high in MLS off a lethal delivery from Reyna. After the Rapids could only partially clear a Vancouver free kick, the ball found its way back to Reyna on the left, and he fed a perfect cross between two defenders and onto the Colombian striker’s head.

The Whitecaps had a couple of opportunities to stretch that early advantage, but couldn’t find the range.

The Rapids made the hosts pay for their waste in the 45th minute when Badji jumped on a mistake by Whitecaps defender Tim Parker to poke home his ninth past a surprised Ousted to take the air out of the building before Reyna made sure his team left with all three points.

"It was a thoroughly professional performance, but we gave away a bad goal and we didn’t put (Colorado) away," said Robinson. "When you don’t do that, you leave teams hanging."

Notes: The Whitecaps picked up a 1-0 victory at Colorado on May 5 before securing a 2-2 draw in their second visit to the Denver suburb of Commerce City exactly two months later. … The Rapids, who saw their modest 1-0-1 unbeaten run snapped, are now 1-12-2 on the road in 2017.

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.