So much for the dog days of summer.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (13W-8L-3D) continued their red-hot form on Saturday night with a commanding 4-0 win over Real Salt Lake (7W-9L-8D) at BC Place.
Octavio Rivero scored his team-leading ninth goal, Pa-Modou Kah found the back of the net again, and Cristian Techera added a second-half brace to help the Western Conference-leading ‘Caps extend their winning streak to three and sweep the season series with RSL.
Saturday’s win was Vancouver’s 13th of the season, which matches their single-season MLS record. And there are still 10 games to go.
For the first time this season, Carl Robinson fielded an unchanged lineup for consecutive MLS matches. After a midweek CONCACAF Champions League fixture, the ‘Caps head coach went back to the same starting XI that beat Seattle Sounders FC 3-0 a week ago.
And it didn’t take them long to find the scoresheet again on Saturday.
In the seventh minute, Rivero put Whitecaps FC ahead from the penalty spot after getting hauled down in the box on a Nicolas Mezquida free kick. Mezquida, who looked lively in his fourth straight start, actually won the free kick himself moments earlier. His country-mate took care of the rest.
Despite the early lead, the ‘Caps looked a bit tentative out of the gates against an RSL side that was without the likes of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, and Joao Plata.
But that didn’t last long.
Around the half-hour mark, Vancouver really started to flex their muscle – coincidentally, shortly after RSL head coach Jeff Cassar was ejected from the match.
After chances from Kendall Waston and Kekuta Manneh, the ‘Caps doubled their lead in the 40th minute. And it was once again Kah who did the damage. Who else?
In the build-up, Manneh showed some fancy footwork on the left before playing a low cross to his Gambian countrymate, who finished first time from in tight.
The ‘Caps picked up where they left off early in the second half.
In the 50th minute, Techera made it 3-0 after tapping in a perfect low cross from Jordan Harvey at the back post. For Harvey, who made a concerted effort of getting forward all night, it was his first assist of the season. And he got his second shortly later when Techera added an exclamation mark on the night with a long-distance blast in the 68th minute.
Techera, who came ever so close to completing the hat-trick on a few different occasions, was named the Budweiser Man of the Match in a thoroughly dominant performance from the home side. The ‘Caps have now scored at least three goals in three straight games, outscoring their opponents 10-1 in the process.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship Final on Wednesday at Montreal Impact (4:30 p.m. PT on sportsnet.ca and Sportsnet World). The ‘Caps then return to MLS action three days later in another important Western Conference clash at Sporting Kansas City.
By picking up a yellow card in the 60th minute, Waston will now miss next Saturday’s match vs. Sporting KC due to caution accumulation. However, the Costa Rican centre back will remain available for Wednesday’s Amway Canadian Championship fixture at Montreal.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Cristian Techera
Referee: Chris Penso