VANCOUVER — Cristian Techera scored his first goal for Vancouver on Saturday as the Whitecaps downed the Real Salt Lake 2-1.
The pint-sized winger jumped on a mix up between Salt Lake defender Elias Vasquez and goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 79th minute and slotted home the winner before being mobbed by teammates.
Generously listed at five foot two, Techera is on a season-long loan to the Whitecaps from his Uruguayan club and has slowly found his footing in Major League Soccer since arriving in April.
Gershon Koffie had the other goal for Vancouver (7-5-2), while Javier Morales replied for Salt Lake (4-5-5).
Making his 100th start in MLS for Vancouver, Koffie gave his team the lead in the 36th minute with a rocket into the top corner on a half volley behind Rimando. The goal was Koffie’s first of the season and came after he rattled the crossbar from six yards out about 10 minutes earlier.
It looked like the Whitecaps would take that lead into the locker-rooms, but Morales equalized on a free kick from 25 yards in the 45th minute after Vancouver defender Pa-Modou Kah was shown a yellow card for impeding Real’s Devon Sandoval.
Morales stepped up and blasted a shot past Whitecaps ‘keeper David Ousted for his third goal of 2015 and first since April 5.
Saturday marked the first match played on the new artificial turf installed at B.C. Place Stadium ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which starts next week.
The Whitecaps won’t be at home again until July 12 — a stretch of five games — because of the tournament, beginning Wednesday in Montreal against the Impact.
Real sat back for most of the first half when the score was tied 0-0, but came out more aggressive after the break, with Ousted and Vancouver’s defenders having to scramble to clear a couple of opportunities in the early going.
At the other end, Rimando made a good save on an Octavio Rivero breakaway in the 60th minute to keep things level. Not to be outdone, Ousted then stretched to make a great one-handed save on Vasquez’s header in the 64th off a Salt Lake corner.
The Whitecaps, who picked up just their third victory over the last nine MLS outings, amped up the pressure on Real’s defence as the half wore on before Techera finally nicked the decider.
Notes: B.C. Place will host nine games during the World Cup, including the final on July 5. … The Whitecaps beat Real 1-0 on April 18 in Utah. The teams play once more this season, Aug. 8 in Vancouver.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press