VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps brief playoff experience came to an end Sunday night with a tempestuous 1-0 loss to Los Angeles F.C., eliminating the Canadian club from the Major League Soccer post-season.
Golden boot winner Denis Bouangascored the winner in the 24th minute on a penalty after Whitecaps defender Tristan Blackmon was judged to have fouled LAFC’s Mario Gonzalez.
The goal from the spot was LAFC’s first shot of the game and allowed the visitors to sweep the first round, best-of-three series.
Vancouver’s players surrounded referee Tim Ford decrying the decision and would do so again roughly 15 minutes later after Gonzalez slid in hard on goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka earning a yellow card as fans called for a sending off.
Vancouver increasingly threw caution to the wind as the second half went on, with head coach Vanni Sartini bringing on striker Simon Becher and attacking midfielder Junior Hoilett in an attempt to produce the tying goal.
Whitecaps top scorer Brian White had the best opportunity of the game in the 85th minute after Ryan Gauld’s cross found the American open in the box, only for his header to go straight into the hands of former Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.
The Whitecaps struggled to find a way past LAFC’s compact defensive unit, with Crepeau aggressively patrolling his box to claim crosses.
Sartini was sent off deep into stoppage time after the referee collided with Whitecaps midfielder Alessandro Schopf, leading to what appeared to be a second goal for LAFC only for it to be called back for offside.
The Italian, and several Vancouver players, were booked for arguing before the empty-net goal was called back.
Vancouver lost the first match of the series 5-2 on Oct. 28 in California.