It was a tale of two halves as the Vancouver Whitecaps struck first but were unable to hold on as they came away from Montréal with a point.

Goals from Brian White and Matias Coccaro cancelled each other out as the two clubs dealt with missing players due to international duty with Canada and earlier matches in the midweek.

The White-Ryan Gauld pairing gave the Whitecaps the first lead of the match in the 29th minute. Gauld ran onto the ball deep by the left corner flag. With a turn, he got around the Montréal defender and took the ball down the byline towards the net.

White stepped in front of his defender in the middle of the 18-yard box. Gauld spotted the run and laid off the ball to the American striker. A quick redirect with the outside of his right foot by White, and the Whitecaps were up by one.

Montréal made changes for the second half and started the process of fighting back. The Whitecaps were forced into defending their third time and time again.

But they could only continue that way for so long. Montréal found their equalizer in the 79th minute. Two substitutes combined for the goal; Ruan’s cross found Coccaro, and the header was too strong for Yohei Takaoka to keep out.

A busy week, and it’s not letting up

The Whitecaps have not had much time for rest. Three matches in eight days have been difficult with Andrés Cubas and Ali Ahmed both on international duty with their respective countries and a host of injuries for the trainers to deal with.

Sam Adekugbe, Tristan Blackmon and Damier Krielach have all been out for extended periods. Pedro Vite missed this match after suffering a knock in the midweek match against Minnesota.

Head coach Vanni Sartini said the busy schedule affected the game “enormously.”

“Luis [Matins] and Damir were on the bench but were just on the bench for support because they had a little problem before the game on Wednesday,” Sartini said. “ Pedro, not even dressed because he got kicked on the Wednesday in Minnesota. Ryan [Gaudl] couldn’t go more than 60 minutes. Brian [White], the same. I pushed him for 75 [minutes], but the last 15 minutes, he was [tired].”

The schedule is not about to let up. The Whitecaps have midweek matches this entire month because of still being a part of the Canadian Championship. They also have a friendly match against Wrexham A.F.C. in England’s League One on July 27 and begin the Leagues Cup against LAFC on July 30.

“I’m happy that we have a game on Wednesday. Montréal don’t play, but they would be happy to play in the semi-final. So, that’s okay,” he said.

Fafà and Schöpf on the left starts to work

Throughout the first half, the work of Fafà Picault and Alessandro Schöpf on the left side of the pitch was noticeable for their effectiveness in breaking up Montréal’s play and driving deep into the attack.

In previous matches, this left-sided pairing has had difficulty. Both players had been caught running into similar spaces and cancelling one another out.

“There were some games where they worked very well,” Sartini said. “I remember Portland at home or Dallas away. Then, I agree with you, the last couple of games when they played in those positions together, they were a little, I would say, hurting each other instead of helping each other.”

In particular, Schöpf was strong in his ball progression and defensive ability. Playing in the wing-back role, he complemented Fafà further up the pitch and Cubas who was playing in the defensive midfielder role in a more central position.

“Today actually, they helped each other, and I think they both played well.”

Fafà was also instrumental in creating White’s goal, playing the first pass up the left to Gauld.

White is back

The Whitecap’s all-time goal scorer has five in his last three matches. It’s safe to say the American has found his form.

White leads the Whitecaps with 10 goals in this MLS season. Gauld is one behind him.

Up next

There is no rest for the Whitecaps as they go coast-to-coast. Leg one of the Canadian Championship semi-final against Pacific FC is four days away.

That match is on Wednesday, July 10. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.