Camilo ended his 12-game scoring drought with a flourish Saturday.
The 24-year-old Brazilian winger scored a goal and added an assist as the Vancouver Whitecaps beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in MLS action before a crowd of 20,083 at B.C. Place.
Camilo led Vancouver with 12 goals in 2011 but has struggled this season while battling a thigh injury. The goal was his first goal since May 19 against Seattle and just his fourth of the season.
“It’s hard, because I lost my confidence,” said Camilo. “But now I’m back, and I hope there’ll be a lot more [goals].”
The Whitecaps improved to 10-7-7 while avenging a loss to Real Salt Lake in Utah two weeks ago. Salt Lake (13-9-3) suffered its second consecutive loss and fourth straight on the road.
Vancouver, which entered the game in fourth place in the Western Conference, moved within five points of second-place Salt Lake.
Camilo opened scoring in the 58th minute following a Real Salt Lake turnover in its 18-yard box. Dane Richards scored Vancouver’s other goal, which proved to be the winner, as he fired in Camilo’s one-touch pass in the 64th minute.
Nat Borchers scored for Salt Lake in stoppage time to add a touch of late drama.
Camilo had played well in recent games, but struggled to score. Vancouver coach Martin Rennie indicated it was just a matter of time before he finally put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s just been coming in the last few games,” said Rennie. “You could see it. His confidence is coming back.”
While Camilo and Richards provided the offence, goalkeeper Brad Knighton and newly-acquired central defender Andy O’Brien furnished strong defence for the victors.
Knighton was credited with five saves as he picked up the win in his first start as a Whitecap. The 27-year-old Hickory, N.C., native, spent all of last season with the second-tier Carolina RailHawks and had not started an MLS game since October 2010. But he got the nod Saturday as starter Joe Cannon sat out a one-game suspension.
“He was a little bit unlucky not to get the clean sheet at the end,” said Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie.
O’Brien, a 33-year-old former Leeds United star who signed as a free agent last month, was pressed into duty earlier than expected after Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit left the game in the first half with a head injury.
“It’s really good for us to have [O’Brien] here at this time. ... I thought he had a fantastic game,” said Rennie.
“The most important thing is [we got] the result when my opportunity came,” said O’Brien. “It’s unfortunate that [DeMerit] got injured.”
DeMerit collided with Knighton and Salt Lake’s Alvaro Saborio as the RSL striker headed a Javier Morales cross off the goalpost. Both Knighton and DeMerit lay on the field for a few minutes while being tended by trainers.
DeMerit went off briefly and returned, drawing a large cheer from the crowd. But he appeared groggy and left the game for good in the 31st minute.
“He did get a head knock and it looked to me like he was concussed, but that’s not official,” said Rennie.
Rennie said his club’s play went flat after DeMerit went out. But the Whitecaps showed much more energy in the second half.
Camilo scored when Real Salt Lake defender Will Johnson’s clearing attempt bounced off Darren Mattocks in the 18-yard box and the ball came to him. Camilo promptly rolled a shot into the corner of the net.
Richards increased Vancouver’s lead six minutes later as he completed a three-way passing play with Mattocks and Camilo. Mattocks started the play from the left corner of the 18 as he sent the ball to Camilo at the top of the box. Camilo then sent a lateral pass to Richards and he fired the ball just inside the right post.
Knighton preserved Vancouver’s two-goal advantage in the 66th minute as he blocked a Saborio shot and then grabbed the loose ball with O’Brien standing guard. It looked like the Whitecaps goalkeeper had secured his shutout in the 86th minute as he dove to stop a curling Paulo Junior shot.
But Borchers headed in Junior’s cross from the left flank in the second minute of stoppage time after three were added. Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis said his club showed much more grit than it had in several previous road games. But he was not impressed with his players following Camilo’s goal.
“They got a lucky bounce to open up the scoring, and we didn’t respond quite as well as I’d have liked to have,” said Kreis.
Notes: Whitecaps midfielder Gershon Koffie will be suspended for Wednesday’s game against Dallas after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season. He took down Fabian Espinola early in the second half. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for late Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso, who died at the age of 22 on Aug. 5 after collapsing in a bar in the Ohio capital. Urso’s funeral was held Saturday. As a result, a game between Columbus and Toronto slated for Saturday was postponed. ... Vancouver’s No. 3 goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre dressed as the backup.