Whitecaps duel to 1-1 tie with Charlotte FC

Ryan Raposo scored deep into first-half stoppage time to help the Vancouver Whitecaps salvage a 1-1 draw against visiting Charlotte FC on Saturday night.

Raposo's third career MLS goal -- and first since the 2022 season -- helped the Whitecaps (0-0-1, 1 point) earn a point as the last team to open their campaign.

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But Vancouver ran its winless run in season openers to three games on a night they started slowly and were punished by a promising-looking effort from Charlotte FC in their second match under manager Dean Smith.

Vanni Sartini, Smith's Vancouver counterpart, served the first of a six-match suspension for comments critical of officiating made during last year's final Whitecaps playoff defeat.

Iuri Tavares found the net for Charlotte (1-0-1, 4 points), which is already off to the best start of its brief history after winning its opener against New York City FC.

For a second consecutive match, The Crown proved difficult to break down defensively, although they slightly trailed 10-7 in overall shots and 6-5 in efforts on target.

Charlotte had more of the early chances but was fortunate when Vancouver's Tristan Blackmon flashed an open header wide of Kristijan Kahlina's right post.

Tavares gave Charlotte a deserved early lead at 31 minutes on a sequence created by the visitors' press.

The ball eventually came to Brecht Dejaegere on the right flank. He sent a low pass toward Enzo Copetti, who faked like he was going to control the ball and instead let it continue to roll across the box, where Tavares hammered in a first-touch finish.

Copetti nearly doubled the advantage on a late-first-half breakaway, only to be stood up by charging goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka.

Raposo leveled moments before the halftime whistle from an unusual sequence.

After Charlotte partially cleared the initial danger from a corner kick, Pedro Vite reached the ball and sent a diagonal service toward the left corner of the 6-yard box. Raposo reached it and appeared to be trying to hit a first-touch cross back in front of the goal where a couple teammates were waiting.

Instead, the ball he mis-struck wrongfooted Kahlina -- who was expecting the cross -- and rolled gently across the goal line.