Something is cooking in the Vancouver Whitecaps locker room. And amongst all the normally noxious smells commonly associated with a locker room, this is smelling good.

The visitors came from behind to win 2-1 and deny Toronto FC a win in front of their home crowd.

Head coach Vanni Sartini called it a “fantastic win.”

A slow start for the home side, the Whitecaps were able to build a decent run of possession to begin the match. But possession did not translate into shots as Vancouver was often forced to the edges.

Toronto did begin to find the space around 15 minutes into the match. The Whitecaps found themselves hemmed in their half for longer stretches. Their somewhat deeper backline gave the home side space to manoeuvre as they forced Yohei Takaoka into a couple of smart saves to keep the game level.

“I think in the first half, we didn’t have the necessary…killer instinct or attitude in the final third to score,” Sartini said.

The Whitecaps did garner a few chances on target through Brian White and Ryan Raposo, but they were nothing that was going to challenge Tomás Romero.

The second half needed a spark from both sides. Raposo attempted to get the Whitecaps on the board with a brilliant curling shot, but it was saved by Romero. The ball was immediately kicked up the pitch by Lorenzo Insigne, sending Deandre Kerr on a breakaway.

“We were a little naïve because that ball played by Sebastian [Berhalter] needs to be played wide, and he played the ball centrally,” Sartini said of Toronto’s goal. “But Insigne made a fantastic pass.”

The 20-year-old homegrown player made no mistake, sending the ball beyond Takaoka to give the home side the lead in the 50th minute.

But true to form over these past few matches, the Whitecaps did not stay down for long. Tristan Blackmon got his head on a Raposo corner kick, directing the ball in by the near post to tie up the game in the 56th minute.

“Resilience comes from awareness,” the head coach said. “When we were down, we weren’t in crisis. We knew that we were in charge of the game and had the possibility to score at any moment.”

Raposo hit another chance off the crossbar a few minutes later, signaling the Whitecaps on the ascent. Pedro Vite also came on with a half-hour left in the match to add more to Vancouver’s offensive push.

The best-attacking duo in MLS put the Whitecaps in front in the 66th minute. Ryan Gauld hit an early cross into White. The American striker, all alone in the 18-yard box, headed the ball past Romero to put Vancouver in front.

The pair almost did a repeat five minutes later, but White’s header this time went into the ground and bounced wide.

The Whitecaps kept up the pressure through the final 20 minutes. White had numerous opportunities and could have singlehandedly added another couple of goals.

But the two were enough to cement the 2-1 win over Toronto. In the first four matches of this seven-match road trip, the Whitecaps have climbed the Western Conference standings with 10 points out of a possible 12.

It was a performance by a team that has come into it’s own.

“I think we have a kind of maturity at the moment that, even if we go down, we keep doing the thing that we’re supposed to do,” Sartini said. “We stick to the plan, and we are able to even get back in some games.”

Next up

The Whitecaps do not have any time to really celebrate their win. They were heading right to the airport because the have a very quick turnaround.

The club will be in Houston on Wednesday, Sept. 20 to take on the Dynamo.

“It looks like we’re in a video game,” Sartini said. “And every game is a different level. It’s more difficult, it’s most difficult, it’s more difficult. I’m Italian, so I’m thinking about Mario [from Super Mario Bros.]. So, let’s arrive at the princess at the end. That’s the qualification for the playoffs.”

Kickoff for the Houston match is at 5;30 p.m.