It’s now six losses in six games away from BC Place for the Whitecaps, who remain last in the 14-team Western Conference

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No players, no luck, and still no road points.

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The Vancouver Whitecaps, missing 11 players to a variety of maladies, were within five minutes of their first regulation road point of the season on Sunday, when a bad bounce — and two bad clearance attempts — led to an 85th minute winner by Charlotte FC’s Daniel Rios at Bank of America Stadium.

Tosaint Ricketts put the Caps (3-7-2) up early, but Charlotte (5-8-1) ended Vancouver’s three-game league unbeaten streak with goals from Andre Shinyashiki and Ríos.


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A deflected clearance attempt bounced back into the Caps’ box, where two Vancouver players couldn’t clear it, and Rios snuck in and smashed it home in front of a leaden-footed Ranko Veselinovic on a hot and humid afternoon in Charlotte. Vancouver is now 0-6 on the road this season.

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Here’s what we learned…


Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey pumps up fans as the honorary coronation of the crown guest during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Bank of America Stadium.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey pumps up fans as the honorary coronation of the crown guest during the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Bank of America Stadium. Photo by Jim Dedmond /USA TODAY Sports

SKELETON CREW

The number of players missing for Vancouver on Sunday, incredibly, was 11.

Lucas Cavallini, suspended for yellow card accumulation. Erik Godoy, left at home for load management. Thomas Hasal, Caio Alexandre and Tristan Blackmon, working their way back from long-term injuries. And then five players — Isaac Boehmer, Cody Cropper, Jake Nerwinski, Pedro Vite and Brian White, all in health and safety protocols as the Caps weathered a COVID outbreak.

With Cavallini and White out, that meant Ricketts was the only striker on the roster, and he started up top.

But the biggest impact came between the sticks with all three goalkeepers ruled out of the game. The Caps made York United’s Nikolaos (Niko) Giantsopoulos an emergency hardship signee through Sunday night, and he flew out from Victoria on Saturday after backstopping York to a 0-0 tie against Pacific, and will fly back for their Canadian Championship game against the same team on Tuesday.

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But the start went to academy keeper Max Anchor, who at 17 years, 305 days old, became the sixth youngest player to play for the team in club history.


Vancouver Whitecaps striker Tosaint Ricketts, left, celebrates with teammate Sebastian Berhalter after scoring against Charlotte FC in the second minute of the first half of an MLS soccer match in Charlotte, NC, Sunday, May 22, 2022.
Vancouver Whitecaps striker Tosaint Ricketts, left, celebrates with teammate Sebastian Berhalter after scoring against Charlotte FC in the second minute of the first half of an MLS soccer match in Charlotte, NC, Sunday, May 22, 2022. Photo by Nell Redmond /AP

QUICK STRIKE EXPERT

Ricketts’ goals-per-minute production was pretty staggering to start the game. He came on as a late sub against Toronto, then scored the 90th minute winner. Two minutes into Sunday’s game, his next appearance from him, he scored the opener against Charlotte. He even had an injury-time tying goal wiped out against Montreal after being a late injection into the game.

Ricketts’ goal on Sunday, officially 1:48 into the game, was the quickest goal in team history since Erik Hurtado’s goal in March 2017. According to Opta, the veteran striker’s previous 17 goals had all come in the 37th minute or after, including 15 second-half markers.

Ricketts is now tied for a second in team scoring with Ryan Raposo and Brian White, with two goals of the year.

That’s pretty good production for a player who wasn’t even sure he was going to play this year, or retire and focus on his front office aspirations.

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BY THE NUMBERS

5: Number of shots on goal for the Caps, the same as Charlotte. The home side had more total shots (17-11) and more possession (63-37), but Vancouver managed to put the same amount of shots on target. Charlotte clearly were trying to put as many on net as possible to rattle young Max Anchor, but after some early nerves, he settled in.

58: Number of duel victories for the Caps; Charlotte had just 33. The visitors were winning the majority of their one-on-one battles, but they couldn’t translate that to success on the possession side.


Vancouver FC goalkeeper Max Anchor (50) blocks goal against Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium.
Vancouver FC goalkeeper Max Anchor (50) blocks goal against Charlotte FC at Bank of America Stadium. Photo by Griffin Zetterberg /USA TODAY Sports

QUICK TURN ROUND

Vancouver will stay in Charlotte tonight, and fly out to Calgary on Tuesday ahead of their Canadian Championship game with Cavalry FC. Vanni Sartini made no secret that they consider the game the biggest of the season for them, so expect a full-strength roster — depending on the COVID situation.

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