Report and Reaction: Whitecaps Best in the West after three goal drubbing of Minnesota United

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps Best in the West after three goal drubbing of Minnesota United

Even with more than half of the starting eleven switched out from Saturday, the result remained the same as Vancouver Whitecaps increased their unbeaten streak to five (four of those wins) with a 3-0 win against a fairly dismal Minnesota United side.

Yordy Reyna would get his fourth of the season, all of them game winners, while Erik Hurtado and Brek Shea would score the others and David Ousted picked up his sixth clean sheet of the season as the icing on the top of the Western Conference celebration cake.

It all started quickly in the fifth minute when Reyna took a perfectly over the top ball from Marcel de Jong and put it past Bobby Shuttleworth to put the Caps on top. It was a great ball and a great finish, and after that you already felt that it was game over.

Vancouver almost made it two when Kendall Waston was denied on the goalline from a corner, but they did add to their tally just after the half hour mark.

The goal came on the counterattack, with Brek Shea sending the ball into the six yard area where Erik Hurtado would guide the ball in with his chest.

A brave finish from the striker for his second of the season, running the near full length of the pitch to throw himself in front of the keeper and make it 2-0.

And that was it at the half. You felt it could and should have been more, but two was just fine at this stage of the proceedings.

Shuttleworth came up big after the hour mark when Bernie Ibini looked to have his header hitting the net but the keeper was able to get his hand on the ball.

And that was really it for the goalscoring opportunities until Shea got the ‘Caps third of the night with a couple of minutes to go in the 90, heading in a Freddy Montero cross past the keeper.

With the victory the Whitecaps have moved into first place in the West, winning one more game than Portland, and still having games in hand on both the second and third place teams, who just happen to be their fierce Cascadian rivals.

The ‘Caps will return to BC Place this Saturday for their third straight at home as they take on former Whitecap Kekuta Manneh and the Columbus Crew.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 0 Minnesota United

ATT: 17,368

VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Marcel de Jong; Tony Tchani, Russell Teibert; Alphonso Davies (Nicolás Mezquida 80), Yordy Reyna (Bernie Ibini 63), Brek Shea; Erik Hurtado (Fredy Montero 72) [Substitutes not used: Stefan Marinovic, Andrew Jacobson, Cristian Techera, Sheanon Williams]

MINNESOTA: Bobby Shuttleworth; Jerome Thiesson, Michael Boxall, Brent Kallman (Joseph Greenspan 62), Ismaila Jome; Collen Warner, Ibson; Ethan Finlay, Johan Venegas, Sam Nicholson (Christian Ramirez 72); Abu Danladi [Substitutes not used: Patrick McLain, Marc Burch, Miguel Ibarra, Collin Martin, Brandon Allen]

REACTION:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

CARL ROBINSON

Thoughts on the match:

“I think it was a very workmanlike performance. It is a tricky game because of Minnesota, where they are in the table, not because they’re a bad team, they’re a good team [and] they have good players. Adrian does a great job there. We just had to make sure our focus was right, our mentality was right and we played well, and the boys did that. They deserve a lot of credit. There was a couple of changes I made for freshness reasons, and they worked. So those guys, every guy, deserves a lot of credit.”

On Yordy Reyna:

“He was good for sixty odd minutes, he really was. He scores goals, which helps. If you’re going to be an attacking player, you need to either score or create. He does things which he shouldn’t do, in wrong areas of the field, but he does exciting things in the top third of the pitch. Obviously it’s a wonderful ball by Marcel [de Jong], it’s a great touch [by Reyna], and it was a great finish by a forward player.”

On the focus to maintain the lead:

“Very focused. We were in this position earlier on in the season when we were in Minnesota, and within 10 minutes all the hard work that we’d put into the first 45 minutes was gone. I’d made them aware of it. Minnesota score a lot of goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half, so I just said that you’ve got to defend, you’ve got to defend properly, do the little jobs and other little details correct, and they did that. I don’t think we were ever in any danger, but we had to be switched on and we were certainly switched on.”

On what they need to do to stay in first place in the Western Conference:

“I won’t make much of it. We’ve just got to keep ticking along, we’ve got to keep winning games of football. That game’s gone now. It was a good performance by the group. Some players got a rest today, some people were left out. We’ll be training tomorrow, we’re back to work tomorrow. We’ve got a huge game on Saturday against a very good team who’s flying in the East as well. We’ll put our total focus onto that. But I won’t be looking at the table.”

On what makes this year’s team different to previous squads:

“Quality. Unfortunately you can’t turn around a team in one year. You’d like to, and too much change you get criticized, cause there’s no identity, there’s no flow in the team or the club. So you’ve got to do it bit by bit, and I’ve done it bit by bit. We’ve got quality players, we’ve got men. We’ve got a right balance now, and when I talk about my younger players, my younger players that are 23, 24, 25, they’ve played a hundred odd games. So that’s the difference this year we’ve got. There’s still areas we need to improve, we still need to be better in certain things. But when they step across that white line they give absolutely everything, as you saw today. And you see me shouting on the sideline, I want to keep a clean sheet for David and the back four and they deserve it. Those are the little details we need to get right, and we did today.”

On versatility with attacking players:

“It’s very important. If you speak to a player individually, they’ll always tell you they like playing with certain players, usually they’re mates. But I’ve got a group of players here who have different characteristics and different strengths. You talk about Yordy Reyna, you talk about Erik Hurtado, you talk about Nico Mezquida. You know Alphonso played in the number ten area for fifteen minutes. Different types of players that I’ve got in that locker room have got different strengths, and against certain opposition you can play certain types of players. Having the flexibility and the ability to change it – and we did today against a difficult opponent – is always good. And that’s the difference. We’ve got a strong squad, but you’ve got to keep the squad happy, and competition for places is right, which is what I want. I’ve said we’ll do things by committee here.”

On Erik Hurtado:

“Erik’s been great. Listen I’ll defend Erik until I’m blue in the face, and I certainly get blue in the face sometimes because he gives absolutely everything. Yes, he needs to tidy up on certain things, and he gets his reward today from three, four, five, six weeks of hard work in training. And that’s why he’s got his reward. He hasn’t complained, he hasn’t knocked on my door and said why is he not playing. I told him his chance will come. He was great in Orlando for 65 minutes, he worked his socks off there. And today he got his reward with a goal. As he walked off he told me he could score another goal. I said, well you should of, because he had a great chance. So I like that about him, he’s got good character. I’ve said as long as you’re willing to work as hard as you can for me, I’ll keep you around.”

ERIK HURTADO

On being on the front foot:

“We knew that going into the game and we just needed to treat it like it was a cup final, that’s what the coach told us to do. So we went in there and we tried to get in behind. And we wanted to get a shutout, that was our goal and we did.”

On working hard and waiting for his chance:

“It’s been really hard to be patient, but that’s being a team player. Rooting your team from the bench, from the stands. But I’ve just got to wait for my chance and I was fortunate enough to take it tonight.”

On the goal:

“Brek [Shea] put a great ball in, and I just wanted to get on the end of it and put it on target, and it went in the back of the net.”

On promising former teammate Kekuta Manneh a goal [he was in the stands] and playing him Saturday:

“I saw him out here a little bit ago. If I play against him, then good, but if not then I hope he plays well against us, but I hope we get the win.”

On being in first place:

“We have a long way to go. We’ve just got to take it game-by-game, and we’ve got to focus on our game on Saturday.”

On remaining focused until playoffs:

“We’ve just got to take it game-by-game. We’re going to be at training tomorrow and focus on the game Saturday.”

JAKE NERWINSKI

Thoughts on the match:

“I’m really happy with how we played today, defensively and offensively. We scored three goals, and we got another shutout, which is huge. And I don’t think we really gave them that many chances to score. That’s what we’re really looking for, so it’s good.”

On not overlooking Minnesota:

“Right after that game Saturday we were looking forward to this one, and the gaffer made sure that we were not looking past this game, we weren’t thinking about first place. We just had to buckle down and get this win.”

On if there was talk about the game in Minnesota earlier in the season:

“We went over film and we looked at our mistakes and what happened in that second half. We tried to right them, and I think we did. We really didn’t give them a shot to score, so it was good.”

On stringing together wins at home:

“It’s always great being home, it’s always great playing in front of these fans. I like to say that I always like to wake up in my own bed, do my own thing before the game, so it’s always good. The fans have been great this whole week, and hopefully we can continue that Saturday.”

On being in first place:

“It feels good, but we want to be there at the end of the season. I said that the other day. It’s good to be in first now, but we’ve got seven games left, so in seven games we want to be in first.”

MINNESOTA UNITED

ADRIAN HEATH

On final stretch drive:

“Every game is important for us. It’s going to be very difficult for us, but we have to keep playing for a lot of things. A lot of pride, and we’re playing for positions to be here next year because if you go on the road and play like we did tonight you can’t expect to win.”

On road woes:

“We have enough ability on the team to win games on the road, I know that. I know what we’re capable of but I didn’t think we had enough fight in us tonight. I thought the most important part of the game is in both boxes and they were better than us, more dangerous than us in one end, and defended better than us in the other end.”

On foundation pieces:

“We have stuff to build on, we have stuff to build on but I’m aware – I’m sure everybody at our club is aware – that as we are at this moment in time, this squad is not deep enough. We need to bring players in the winter to make sure we don’t go through a year like we had this year because we’ve had too many performances on the road where we haven’t been good enough.”

BRENT KALLMAN

On both goals:

“The first one [Reyna] pulls off my back shoulder, knew it was coming to be fair, he dropped in a really good ball. It’s a tough spot, he makes a really good run but I think me and [Ismaila] have to do a better job of dropping and covering, and making sure that doesn’t happen. On the second one I have to take full responsibility because the play starts at the other end, the ball pops out to Hurtado, I’m there, I should take the foul and stop the play, instead I don’t, they get out, they counter and Hurtado ends up being the one that goes all the way down and scoring on the other end. So not a lot of concentration on both plays from a lot of us, me especially on the second one I had to foul him there and then nothing ever happens.”

On feeling more comfortable on the road:

“We’ve been in good form lately, even going back to the Seattle game we lost in the last second. So there were positive feelings around the team going into tonight, [it] just wasn’t good enough. We just talked about it, on both ends it wasn’t good enough. We didn’t defend our box well enough, and we weren’t very dangerous going forward either, so where it counted we weren’t good enough.”

MICHAEL BOXALL

Thoughts on the match:

“Not great. Vancouver are very good at what they do, they defend well, dangerous on the counter, and I think on a few of the goals we were too naïve. To be a team in this league you have to learn quickly. To be giving up goals like that this late down the stretch, we should be better than that.”

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