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Club Leon takes extra point after 19-round shootout but tie 2-2 against Whitecaps

The Whitecaps will next play MLS against L.A. Galaxy
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Mathias Laborda, left, knocks down a pass intended for Club Leon’s Omar Fernandez with his foot during the first half of a Leagues Cup soccer match in Vancouver, on Friday, July 21, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

After 19 rounds of a shootout, the Leagues Cup match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Mexican side Club Leon still finished in a draw.

The Whitecaps and Leon played to a 2-2 draw in regular time on Friday night (July 21) B.C. Place Stadium.

But in a quirk of Leagues Cup rules, the game then went to a shootout with the team that won gaining a point in addition to the one for the draw.

Leon’s Borja Sanchez scored the winning kick of the shootout after a stunning 19 rounds of attempts, with Leon scoring 16 to the Whitecaps 15.

“The first 15/20 minutes and then right after we concede the goal, we had a very bad 15 minutes, to be honest,”said Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini. “Then undeservedly we tied, and after the tie the second half actually was fantastic. The second half we smashed them. We looked like the (CONCACAF) Champions League winner.”

A game that initially appeared to be dominated by Club Leon — the defending Leagues Cup champions — turned into a feisty affair with both teams throwing caution to the wind when attacking.

Sergio Cordova scored twice for the Whitecaps, while Elias Hernandez responded with a rocket in the 77th minute to tie the match and send it to spot kicks.

“The first half he scored a beautiful goal but I think in the second half in the 35 minutes that he played, he was dominant,” said Sartini about Cordova’s performance. “Attacking, defending, pressing, having chances … this is the Sergio that we want to see every game.”

The Leagues Cup features matches between clubs from Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX.

Ivan Moreno opened the scoring for Leon in the 23rd minute, capitalizing on a fluffed clearance by Andres Cubas.

But Cordova responded in the dying minutes of the first half.

After chants of “olé” from the travelling Leon fans cheering on the passes their team strung together, the Venezuelan striker took a Sebastian Berhalter cutback and curled it in from 20 yards out against Rodolfo Cota in the 44th minute.

Cordova struck again in the 57th minute after receiving a through ball from Ryan Gauld and then holding off his man to slide it in.

Gauld, who was knocked down on the play, rose to his knees and pumped his fists at the scene of his teammates celebrating.

“I was feeling a wee bit tired come the end of it and I thankfully knocked the ball through and Sergio was there. And just seeing him put the ball in the back of the net and going up 2-1 it was a good feeling,” he said.

The assist brings Gauld to 27 for the Whitecaps, making him their all-time leader in assists in the MLS version of the club.

“It’s a good feeling. I like to base my game on creating chances for the guys up top. Thankfully, 27 times means they’ve put the ball in the back of the net,” he said.

The Whitecaps will next play MLS against L.A. Galaxy on July 29 in group stage action of the Leagues Cup.

The top two teams of Leon, Vancouver and L.A. will then move on to the next stage of the tournament.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

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