The Vancouver Whitecaps emerged victorious in a slightly nervy affair again Minnesota United. It was a bit of a narrative buster, as the talk all week was about how Vancouver’s defence was much improved but they just couldn’t score. But in this match, Vancouver carved Minnesota open and then struggled to close out the game. These defensive struggles are certainly concerning but Vancouver was due some luck after being massively unlucky to this point in the season. So I won’t worry about that too much for now.
The first 20 minutes of the match looked a bit like someone had adjusted the FIFA sliders such that nobody could control the ball. The ball was bouncing all over the place on both teams and they struggled to build anything coherent. But, out of this chaos came the rare Brian White breakaway. Andres Cubas won the ball and put the normally plodding striker through on goal from the halfway line. White had just enough pace to get there ahead of Miguel Tapias (which, it has to be said, is kind of embarrassing for him) and slot past Dayne St Clair in the Minnesota goal.
But this lead was short-lived, as former Whitecap Michael Boxall was able to bundle the ball in off of a corner. Yohei Takaoka, it has to be said made a bit of a mess of it. But this mess was proceeded by not conceding a goal for nearly 15% of an MLS season so a slip-up was bound to come at some point.
The Whitecaps then began to take the game to Minnesota. Brian White was denied a second from close range by St Clair and Pedro Vite was not able to redirect a driven cross into an empty goal. The pressure continued after the half-time break. In the second phase of a corner, Ranko Veselinovic was able to head the ball through to White who converted with his testicles from close range. Unfortunately, the nut shot was not the most painful element of the goal for White as St.Clair clattered into him, forcing him out of the game with a knee injury.
Since the Minnesota defence was beaten in a foot race by White earlier in the game it was perhaps no surprise that Simon Becher and Ryan Gauld instantly cooked them in transition. Becher slotted home just 29 seconds after entering the game. This paved the way for Vancouver to sail to just their 3rd win of the season.
Except it didn’t. Minnesota piled the pressure on and Vancouver looked ill-equipped to handle it. Sang-Bin Jeong was slipped through by Robin Lod to pull a goal back. Both players were given a shocking amount of time and space. The chances just kept coming. Mender Garcia somehow failed to get a shot off when all alone in front, then was denied by Yohei Takaoka on a breakaway. Kemar Lawrence then got in on the action, as he was also unable to get a clean shot off despite being in acres of space. A curling effort by Jeong flew just wide, giving the ‘Caps their final reprieve of the night.
It was much closer than it needed to be in the end (the ‘Caps also had some chances to put the game to bed amid Minnesota’s onslaught) but the ‘Caps have been wildly unlucky this season. Coming into this match they had taken four fewer points than expected according to American Soccer Analysis so I think they can have one lucky one, as a treat. Of course, if this continues to be a problem then we can start worrying.