Erik Hurtado wanted to make sure his first start of the season for Vancouver wasn't his last, and he came through with the lone goal in the Whitecaps' 1-0 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
Not only was the 37th-minute strike the difference, it was also the second-year midfielder's first Major League Soccer goal.
"I don't know if it changes my confidence," Hurtado said. "It's a weight off my shoulder getting my first MLS goal. I know the team has faith in me. The coach has faith in me."
The Whitecaps (4-2-4) have won two straight and extended their unbeaten streak to four games while also winning for the first time on the road this season.
"It was a super match of football," Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said. "It was two teams that wanted to play."
Robinson praised the effort of the struggling Crew (3-4-3) under first-year coach Gregg Berhalter.
"Columbus plays the right way," he said. "I told Gregg that before the match. Columbus at home playing an attacking style, they're not getting the breaks at the moment, as you've seen the last couple of games."
While Columbus had 12 shots, Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted needed to make only two saves for his second shutout of the season.
The Crew, who have not scored in 321 minutes, are 0-4-3 after winning its first three games. They were shutout for the third time in seven days after road losses to Sporting Kansas City and Houston.
"The guys were running on fumes," Berhalter said. "You could see the difference, it was clear. [Vancouver] had a bunch of players running around that were fresh. We didn't have it physically."
Hurtado, making in his fifth career start while appearing in his 22nd game, scored off a long ball by Ousted, who earned an assist.
"I just tried to put it on his chest and luckily he made some magic out it," Ousted said.
After taking the pass from Ousted, Hurtado dribbled left between three Crew players then unleashed a rising shot from 21 yards that settled in the upper left corner past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Steve Clark.
"I chested it toward the goal," Hurtado said. "I got a little touch that set me up for the shot and kept my eye on the ball. I connected with it smoothly.
"It hit my sweet spot right on my left foot. It felt good. When I saw it go past the keeper, I knew it was going under the crossbar."
Columbus pushed for the equalizer at the onset of the second half only to see Ousted come up big, diving to his right to get a hand on a shot by Jimenez in the 48th minute.
"The guys in front of me did really well, especially in the second half, blocking a lot of shots and clearing a lot of things," Ousted said. "It got hectic like it always does when you only have a one-goal lead. We handled it pretty well."
Striker Omar Salgado, the Whitecaps' first-ever draft pick in 2011, returned to the club after being loaned to the Charleston Battery (USL Pro) in March. He replaced Hurtado in the 74th minute for his first MLS game since October 2012, and nearly scored in the 88th minute. His breakaway chip shot over Clark rolled past the right post, however.
The Whitecaps next play Wednesday at home against Toronto FC in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship semifinal. TFC won 2-1 on May 7.