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Despite strong start, Whitecaps lose season opener to Minnesota United

Mar 2, 2019; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver Whitecaps fans parade before the start of the game against the Minnesota United at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps opened the 2019 Major League Soccer season in front of a sellout crowd of 27,837 at BC Place with seven new players in the starting XI and a new coach at the helm.

Despite getting off to a flying start when one of the old faces, Yordy Reyna, set up new signing Erik Godoy for a sixth-minute goal, the completely revamped Caps lacked chemistry and fell to Minnesota United, 3-2, Saturday. 

“The goal we scored was a hidden moment, it was good that we scored,” Whitecaps coach Marc Dos Santos said. “But we weren’t able to get a grip of the game in the first half.”

After Hwang Inbeom was brought down 25 yards outside the box, Reyna played a fantastic cross into the box where Godoy simply tapped the ball past goalkeeper Vito Mannone. 

It was the start Dos Santos was hoping for, and the goal should have taken the pressure off the new-look Whitecaps.

At stages, the Caps were indeed moving the ball around nicely, but at the same time, contrary to Dos Santos’ ball possession philosophy, only enjoyed 40 percent possession during the first 25 minutes — a statistic that would only slightly improve as the match progressed. 

Minnesota pushed the Whitecaps deep into the defensive third, but at the same time struggled to produce any tangible chances until the 32nd minute when Francisco Calvo was allowed too much space on the left. His shot inside the box beat new Caps ‘keeper Maxime Crépeau, but to the relief of the majority of fans inside BC Place, hit the crossbar and was then cleared. 

Four minutes later, Minnesota found the equalizer from the penalty spot.

Jake Nerwinski clumsily brought down Calvo inside the box. Darwin Quintero stepped up and buried the spot kick with a lovely right-footed strike into the top corner. 

The Minnesota goal meant the Whitecaps had lost the thread a bit. Defensively they were overloading the wrong areas and, in midfield, were sloppy — the Whitecaps completed less than 80 percent of their passes. Luckily, for the Caps, Minnesota failed to capitalize before halftime. 

It was, however, much of the same to start the second half. The Whitecaps lack of chemistry was showing as they failed to string together any attacking plays.

“Sometimes it is about the spacing and making the right decisions,” Dos Santos said.

Instead, Minnesota found the net next. Once again the Whitecaps lost control in midfield and this time the Loons moved forward in great numbers with Quintero playing a fantastic cross inside the penalty area to Calvo, whose header beat Crépeau to make it 2-1 in the 66th minute. 

Soon after the Loons doubled the lead. Jon Erice easily gave the ball away to Romario Ibarra in midfield. The Minnesota winger stormed forward inside the box where he not only turned Derek Cornelius inside-out, but also banged a shot off him to make it 3-1 in the 70th minute. 

Vancouver were down but not yet beaten. In the 82nd minute, Hwang played a short corner to PC, whose cross found Doneil Henry wide open inside the area. The defender made no mistake to head home his first goal for the Whitecaps. 

It was too little too late for Dos Santos’ men.

“It wasn’t the result that disappointed me, but the way we conceded,” Dos Santos said. 

The Whitecaps pressed, but simply could not find a way through a well organized Minnesota defense, which hung on to help secure the Loons first victory in Vancouver. 


Vancouver Whitecaps (4-3-3)

Crépeau – Cornelius (PC, 76′), Henry, Godoy, Nerwinski – Inbeom, Erice, Felipe (Ardáiz, 71′) – Lass (Venuto, 69′), Montero, Reyna

Minnesota United (4-2-3-1)

Mannone – Calvo, Opara, Boxall, Métanire – Schüller (Finlay, 80′), Alonso, Gregus – Quintero (Dotson, 90′), R. Ibarra (Rodríguez, 83′), M. Ibarra




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