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Whitecaps whipped 3-0 by L.A. in CONCACAF play

Vancouver drops two-game aggregate 6-0 to Los Angeles FC
Los Angeles FC’s Stipe Biuk, front left, and Vancouver Whitecaps’ Sebastian Berhalter vie for the ball during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal soccer match, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Vancouver Whitecaps came in with a united, optimistic front for their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match.

Head coach Vanni Sartini jokingly compared the 3-0 deficit to climbing Mount Everest, while defender Tristan Blackmon said his Major League Soccer team wanted to prove its worth to the rest of the league.

That hope evaporated after eight minutes, when Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela scored on a penalty at BMO Stadium to signal the beginning of the end for the visitors.

Vela would add another goal in the 31st minute and Jose Cifuentes wrapped up the scoring in the 65th minute.

Vancouver lost the first leg of the affair in B.C. 3-0 and history repeated itself in a 3-0 loss in California on Tuesday night in front of 18,688 spectators.

The Whitecaps opened the match with an unorthodox starting lineup, with wingers slotted into a defensive role.

Whitecaps veteran Russell Teibert, speaking before the match, talked about the need to attack.

“We have to come here and be aggressive,” he said.

Vancouver’s players had acknowledged the tough task facing them in the buildup to the match. Centreback Blackmon said his team had a chance to prove themselves.

“It’s another chance for us to go and prove people wrong,” he said Monday.

Midfielder Ali Ahmed was named as a left-back with Ryan Raposo as the other attacking defender on the right side for Tuesday’s match.

The attacking lineup failed to generate the offence the Whitecaps needed to advance in the competition.

Sartini said he believed the final aggregate score was unfair.

“I think the 6-0 on aggregate is harsh on us,” he said.

The Whitecaps came into this match following a two-game win streak in MLS action. They’ll be looking to make it three straight when they visit Austin FC on Saturday.

“We have to use this game and what we did well and what we didn’t do well to keep improving and keep trying to score points in the league,” said Sartini.

But Sartini admitted he was not happy with some of his players’ performances.

“I thought in the second half some guys could have pushed more. Some of the guys that came on. When we give you a chance to play, and you’re in contention for the jersey on Saturday, you could have played better,” he said.

Steve Cherundolo, LAFC’s head coach, said his team was lucky not to go behind early in the first half.

“I thought the defensive performance in the first 25 minutes was not very good,” he said. “We talked about it at the half and went about it our way.”

LAFC will face the winner of the Philadelphia Union-Atlas (Mexican soccer side) matchup in the semifinal.

The Whitecaps were the only Canadian team left in the Champions League bracket before their elimination.

READ MORE: Whitecaps through to CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals