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The Vancouver Whitecaps did what they wanted to do: survive the first 20 minutes at BMO Stadium.
Turns out the final 40 minutes were the ones they needed to worry about.
Twice, Los Angeles FC scored to go in front in the first half, and twice the Caps rallied to respond. But three second-half goals sealed their fate in Game 1 of their MLS playoff series with LA taking the opening 5-2.
Denis Bouanga and Ryan Hollingshead both scored twice for LA, while Jesús Murillo had one. Brian White and Sam Adekugbe replied for the Whitecaps.
Five goals conceded will stick in the Caps’ craws, but the fact four of them came off corners or set pieces is the part they won’t be able to choke down.
Bouanga’s goal was a moment of expected magic from the Golden Boot winner — holding off Javain Brown before getting separation from Ranko Veselinovic to score from 20 yards out.
But both of Hollingshead’s goals came after the Caps failed to clear rebounds on corner kicks. Bouanga’s second, off a free kick pass, skittered through four Caps defenders before sliding under Yohei Takaoka’s frozen hand. Murrilo’s score, a simple header on a corner kick.
LAFC had 12 corner kicks to Vancouver’s three.
Possession was nearly equal, with LA holding a slight 50.2 per cent edge, but Vancouver was drastically outshot — 19-8 (6-2 on target).
The home side outperformed their xG of 1.4, as did the Caps’ (0.8), but three of LA’s goals were easily avoidable.
It was the first time in MLS play the Caps conceded five goals this season.
The series returns to B.C. Place Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m.
Game 2: LAFC at Whitecaps
Nov. 5, 4:30 p.m., B.C. Place
TV: Apple TV, TSN, RDS. Radio: AM730.
Game 3: Whitecaps at LAFC (If necessary)
Nov. 9, 7 p.m., BMO Stadium
TV: Apple TV. Radio: AM730
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