'Caps earn a point in feisty Leagues Cup opener against Concacaf champs

  • Friday's Leagues Cup match was the third competitive match in club history against a LIGA MX side after the 2017 Concacaf Champions League two-leg semifinal against Tigres UANL
  • With his assist on the second goal, Ryan Gauld set a new club record in the MLS era with 27 in all competitions
  • With two goals, Sergio Córdova has now scored four times in the last three matches in all competitions
  • Sebastian Berhalter recorded his third assist of the season in all competitions
  • 2023 MLS SuperDraft pick J.C. Ngando earned his first start at BC Place with Whitecaps FC, and second start overall

VANCOUVER, BC – It was a physical and feisty affair at BC Place on Friday night, with Club León and Vancouver Whitecaps FC sharing the spoils in an enthralling match in regular time, before a dramatic and long penalty shootout would be won by Los Esmeraldas, granting them an extra point in the Leagues Cup table.

It was early pressure from León in the opening stages of this match. The pressing and intensity of the Emeralds forced some good tackles from the likes of Ranko Veselinovic and Mathías Laborda.

However, León’s hot start would grant them the opening goal, with Iván Moreno placing it past Yohei Takaoka, finishing low off a driven cross to give León the lead in the 20th minute. They nearly doubled their lead 10 minutes later through Moreno once again, if not for a terrific last ditch block by Luis Martins to deny his second goal.

While León would keep pushing, the 'Caps would level the match in the final moments of the first half. A great cutting through ball from Sebastian Berhalter sent Sergio Córdova in behind the León defence. The Venezuelan striker would take his chance immediately, powering it past the onrushing Rodolfo Cota and into the back of the net. The honours would be even at 1-1 going into halftime.

The Blue and White almost took the lead right after halftime, with Brian White coming on and nearly making an instant impact off a Ryan Gauld corner. His rising header would fizz just wide of the target. Whitecaps FC would then continue to battle León across the pitch, fighting to try to capture the lead.

Through their strong start to the second half, the ‘Caps that would strike next, with Córdova doubling his tally and giving the ‘Caps the lead in the 57th minute, after a fantastic through ball by Gauld to feed him clean through on goal. The in-form striker made no mistake, slotting it past Cota with precision to get his fourth goal in his last three games for the club.

León would bounce back, however, levelling things up once again in the 77th minute. A lay-off to the top of the box from Jaine Barreiro would tee-up Elías Hernández to fire one in from range.

Whitecaps FC were inches away from finding a winner before full-time, with Martins smashing an effort off the frame of the goal from range after a corner kick.

Although both teams would have plenty of chances to try to scrap the victory, regulation would end in a draw, with a point up for grabs in a shootout. Both teams would go through their entire lineup in a remarkable shootout that lasted 19 rounds, with Léon ultimately coming up the winners after Martins hit his second effort off the post.

Whitecaps FC are back in Leagues Cup action next Saturday, July 29, when they travel to face Los Angeles Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park with kickoff at 7:30pm PT, available to watch on AppleTV+ MLS Season Pass. Should the 'Caps advance, they could host a Leagues Cup knockout round match between August 2-4 back at BC Place.

The 'Caps next MLS home game will be on August 20, when they face San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30pm. For tickets, visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.


Attendance: 17,391
Referee: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez

Scoring Summary
23’ – LEO – Iván Moreno
44’ – VAN – Sergio Córdova (Sebastian Berhalter)
57’ – VAN – Sergio Córdova (Ryan Gauld)
77’ – LEO – Elías Hernández (Jaine Barreiro)

Possession: LEO 64.6% - VAN 35.4%
Shots: LEO 14 - VAN 8
Shots on Goal: LEO 4 - VAN 2
Saves: LEO 0 - VAN 2
Fouls: LEO 13 - VAN 13
Offsides: LEO 2 - VAN 4
Corners: LEO 11 - VAN 2

20’ – LEO – José Rodríguez
39’ – LEO – William Tesillo
45’+2 – LEO – Victor Dávila
65’ – VAN – Andrés Cubas
88’ – LEO – Elías Hernández

Club León
30.Rodolfo Cota; 7.Iván Moreno (28.José Ramírez 85’), 22.Adonis Frías, 21.Jaine Barreiro, 6.William Tesillo; 29.Lucas Romero, 8.José Rodríguez (5.Fidel Ambríz 56’); 13.Ángel Mena (23.Borja Sánchez 85’), 16.Omar Fernández (24.Osvaldo Rodríguez 50’), 11.Elías Hernández; 10.Víctor Dávila (9.Brian Rubio 56’)

Substitutes not used
1.Alfonso Blanco, 18.Federico Viñas, 25.Paul Bellón, 24.Oscar Villa, 195.Héctor Uribe, 197.Sebastián Santos, 212.Oscar García

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
18.Yohei Takaoka; 2.Mathías Laborda, 4.Ranko Veselinović, 14.Luís Martins; 20.Andrés Cubas; 16.Sebastian Berhalter (6.Tristan Blackmon 46’), 26.J.C. Ngando (7.Déiber Caicedo 84’), 8.Alessandro Schöpf (31.Russell Teibert 70’), 28.Levonte Johnson (24.Brian White 46’); 9.Sergio Córdova (29.Simon Becher 84’), 25.Ryan Gauld

Substitutes not used
1.Thomas Hasal, 32.Isaac Boehmer, 12.Karifa Yao, 27.Ryan Raposo, 61.Matteo Campagna