The Whitecaps' playoff drive hit a big bump in a loss to Nashville

The Whitecaps’ playoff drive hit a big bump in a loss to Nashville

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps scored a goal in their drive to the Major League Soccer playoffs by scoring two first-half goals and losing 3-0 to Nashville SC on Saturday night.

Defenseman Jake Maher scored twice for Nashville, which won back-to-back games for the first time since April. Maher and striker Randall Leal were about four minutes apart in the first half.

The Whitecaps were forced to play with 10 men when striker Lucas Cavalli, a second-half substitute, was shown a red card in the 53rd minute after stepping on Nashville midfielder Alex Mayville.

Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hassell gave the 16,361 crowd at BC Place Stadium something to cheer about when he stopped midfielder Dax McCarty’s penalty kick in the 90th minute.

With six games remaining, the Whitecaps (9-12-7) fall into ninth place in the Western Conference with 34 points. They sit two points behind the Portland Timbers for the seventh and final playoff spot.

Nashville (10-9-9) moves up to fifth in the West with 39 points.

The Whitecaps had some early chances but it was Nashville who scored in the 19th minute with a stunning goal from Lille. The Costa Rican gained control of the ball near midfield, used his pace to get away from several Whitecaps, then curled a right-footed shot past Hassel’s fingers into the far corner of the net.

Nashville extended their lead in the 23rd minute. Striker Hani Mukhtar sent a corner kick into the box which Maher headed past Hassal for his first goal of the season.

Maher made it 3-0 in the 49th minute. Mukhtar sent another corner kick to Souk which striker Ethan Zubak headed to the ground. Maher headed the rebound into the top left corner of the net. Mukhtar earned his team-leading 11th assist.

Vancouver’s Ryan Gould had a chance to score in the 12th minute with a shot from just outside the box that Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis had to tip into the top of the net. Just minutes later Gould took a pass from Sebastian Berhalter and fired a shot across the net.

Game Notes: The last time the Whitecaps fought back from a 2-0, first-half deficit was on October 20, 2021, when they beat Portland 3-2. … Defenders Javin Brown and Tristan Blackman both picked up yellow cards in the first half. … The Whitecaps next game is at San Jose on Sept. 4. … Vancouver’s last home loss was a 3-1 loss to Chicago on July 23. … This was Nashville’s first trip to Vancouver. The teams tied 1-1 on July 30 in Nashville.

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