(Photo Credit: @WhitecapsFC/Twitter)
Vancouver Whitecaps said farewell to their home away from home in Sandy, Utah on Saturday night with a 2-2 draw with Minnesota United.
For a match with four goals and a contentious late penalty, it was a game with little quality or excitement and Vancouver will be glad to finally play a home game in front of home fans for the first time in 18 months in three week’s time.
Cristian Dajome opened the scoring for the Whitecaps but they couldn’t get into the break with the lead and Ethan Finlay levelled for Minnesota on the strop of half tiime. The Loons looked like the only team that would break the deadlock in the second and Robin Lod did that with 15 minutes remaining.
But with the game deep into stoppage time, Finlay was adjudged to have brought Dajome down in the box and the Colombian picked himself up to slot home the equaliser and earn a share of the points.
Marc Dos Santos made two changes to his starting line-up for this one, with Jake Nerwinski coming in for Javain Brown at right back and Russell Teibert coming in for the suspended Caio Alexandre in the midfield. Lucas Cavallini was also able to serve his one game suspension for yellow card accumulation in this match after Canada’s Gold Cup exit to Mexico on Thursday night, a game he also missed because of yellow card accumulation.
There wasn’t a lot of goalmouth action or talking points to start this one, but the Whitecaps had a few half chances with Janio Bikel having a couple of looks at goal but they came to nothing.
You know it’s been a match of little note when the first three video highlights on the MLS website are of offsides!
The deadlock was broken though in the 36th minute with the first real chance of the match.
Teibert sent a through ball forward for Dajome to chase and the Colombian got on the end of it before coolly slotting it past Tyler Miller into the far corner to give Vancouver the lead.
In real time it looked like it may have been offside but the replay soon showed that Dajome had timed this run to perfection and the ‘Caps had what you hoped would be the crucial first goal of the evening.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 1, 2021
But it was a lead that once again they couldn’t hold on to before the break and Minnesota tied things up in the last minute of the half.
This time it was Finlay who ran on to a through ball from Lod between the last two Whitecaps defenders, firing home past Thomas Hasal, which the ‘Caps keeper really should have got at least a hand to.
All square at the break and with Dallas and San Jose both coming up with huge away wins today, it was no overstatement to say that the next 45 minutes could be one of the most crucial ones that Vancouver will play this season. They had to get something from this match and ideally all three points.
Chances were again at a premium to start the second half, with the best either side could muster being a long range Emanuel Reynoso shot straight at Hasal just past the hour mark.
Minnesota were the only team creating anything and they came close to taking the lead when substitute Adrien Hunou crashed a header off the post in the 69th minute from a free kick.
And it was no real surprise when Minnesota went ahead in the 75th minute. The dangerous Lod got the ball on the edge of the box and ran at goal, beating Godoy all ends up, to easily fire past Hasal. A great solo goal from the Finn, but more poor defending from Vancouver.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 1, 2021
The Whitecaps made a triple substitution to try and find some spark, but there was little to be found and it looked like the game was going to just peter out.
But for a team deserving of some favourable breaks after all they’ve had to endure the past 18 months, there was a little bit of good fortune still to play out before they waved goodbye to their Utah home.
Dajome challenged for a loose ball in the box with Finlay, both tumbled to the ground, and referee Lukasz Szpala pointed to the spot. It seemed harsh on the Minnesota man but there was to be no reversal via video review and Vancouver had a chance to get out of town with a point.
Dajome picked himself up to slot home from the spot, seemingly tweaking his knee in the process, but the Colombian allayed fears postgame, which will be a huge relief for Vancouver as he has been the standout players for the ‘Caps this season.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) August 1, 2021
It was a decision that if it went against Vancouver would leave you raging. For me, it wasn’t a penalty, but there was enough element of doubt for VAR to not recommend overturning the decision. A break for the Whitecaps and one which they will hopefully be able to build upon.
This was not a good performance from the ‘Caps. There was no bite in the midfield, no spark up front, and the defence were poor on both goals conceded. Ryan Gauld’s addition should help the former, Lucas Cavallini will be back next week to hopefully help the second, as Brian White hardly saw the ball tonight, and as for the latter, that is still a position that they need to strengthen before the transfer window closes.
Vancouver desperately needed to get something from this match. A point may not have been enough, but it is at least something and leaves them unbeaten in four matches as they get set to head out on a tough three game road spell. They still sit second bottom of the Western Conference standings and they’re still six points back from the playoff line. It’s not insurmountable, but they need to start turning some of these draws into wins if they are going to start climbing the table.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 2 Minnesota United
ATT: A handful
VANCOUVER: Thomas Hasal; Jake Nerwinski (Javain Brown 79), Ranko Veselinovic, Erik Godoy, Cristian Gutierrez; Michael Baldisimo (Patrick Metcalfe 62), Janio Bikel, Russell Teibert (Ryan Raposo 79); Cristian Dajome (Theo Bair 90+6), Deiber Caicedo, Brian White (Tosaint Ricketts 79) [Subs Not Used: Evan Newton, Bruno Gaspar, Andy Rose, Leonard Owusu]
MINNESOTA: Tyler Miller; Romain Métanire, Brent Kallman, Bakaye Dibassy, D.J. Taylor; Jacori Hayes (Adrien Hunou 46), Wil Trapp; Ethan Finlay, Hassani Dotson, Emanuel Reynoso (Jan Gregus 90+1); Robin Lod [Subs Not Used: Dayne St. Clair, Niko Hansen, Juan Agudelo, Jukka Raitala]
Possession: VAN 51.1% – MIN 48.9%
Shots: VAN 11 – MIN 13
Shots on Goal: VAN 3 – MIN 4
Saves: VAN 2 – MIN 1
Fouls: VAN 17 – MIN 14
Offsides: VAN 2 – MIN 3
Corners: VAN 5 – MIN 3
MARC DOS SANTOS
On tonight’s performance:
“In the majority of the first half, I think our energy, our counter press, our moments to step up were good. Then we scored the first goal. We had a very good chance to score the second one, with a play that involves Guti, Teibert, and Brian. Very, very close. We don’t score the second one and then in a play that broke in, we didn’t challenge well in the midfield. We weren’t hard in that 50/50. They got the ball between our centre backs and 1v1, so I think that goal destabilized the team a little bit at half. When we came back to the second half, there was a wind blowing very hard against us, so sometimes it was very hard for us to get out of pressure. And if you see even the balls that Thomas played long, they would stop in the air and Minnesota started to press us in our half. We didn’t have the ability through possession on the ground to get out of pressure and to get in behind them. But it was still a very chippy type of game. The second half, very uncomfortable type. And then when they got the goal through a mistake from us, from a guy that has been enormous for the team. He’s been giant, he’s been a guy that helped the team a lot. He has a moment that he’s disappointed, and it gives a transition, and a guy like Lod is not going to miss there. But then we tried to push, we make some changes to push the game, we made some changes to become a little bit hectic. We knew we would open a lot of spaces; we knew it was a high risk and high reward type of last 15 minutes, or last 10 minutes. Then we get the penalty shot, we tied the game. When you look at the two games between us and Minnesota, we definitely deserve the point. But we feel again that we could have had a little bit more.”
On integrating Ryan Gauld:
“It’s not like a video game that you just take a player, you put in your team and it works right away. There [are] some adaptation periods that for some takes a little bit more time than others. And the same is going to happen with Ryan. Ryan is also going to need an adaptation period. Hopefully it’s going to be fast but when you have a player coming to a new team, to a new league, to a new environment, he always needs a little bit of adaptation. We want to do it in the right way. Unfortunately, it was a move that we worked on for months and he’s just in after 16 games. We would want to do the move when there were zero games, [but] it didn’t work like that. So, it’s a player that we want to integrate fast, but we have to be careful that we don’t integrate him too fast and then the muscles are not ready to contain the reality of MLS. We’ll do all our best to integrate him as fast as possible.”
On Cristian Dajome’s season:
“Cristian is a huge family guy, always with his wife and kids. He spent a huge portion of last season without his family here. From January to the end of August, just waiting on the visa and paperwork and with COVID, they were not allowed to fly. It was hard for him but he was pushing. If you go back to last year, he showed very interesting signs. Very, very interesting signs. But now that he’s settling in and he understands what we’re about, and what we want to do, you see slowly Cristian getting more and more ready to play how we want to play, and to understand his role in the team. And he does it to the tee. What I’m happy with him, is he doesn’t get rewarded with goals just because of the quality he has, it’s also the work rate that he puts in and how he helps the team without the ball and how he’s committed with the team. He’s a great teammate and he’s rewarded for that. I just think you’re seeing a Cristian that’s adapted right now to the club, and to everything that we’re doing.”
On his late injury:
“Just a little bit of pain. I started feeling the pain on the foul right before the penalty. When Finlay fell on top of me, all of his weight fell onto my leg and that’s where all the pain came from but I felt good enough to take the penalty anyways. It’s just a slight thing.”
On the second half:
“I think the midfield was pretty congested in the second half. We didn’t pressure, we didn’t show for the ball. I think it was part of the fact that we were ready to get the ball up top, but we just never got it. Sometimes when the ball would be applied, which we didn’t really look for that pass forward and we didn’t make it quick enough.”
On the team finally returning to Vancouver:
“I’m super happy. My family is also super happy to go back to Vancouver and play in front of the fans. I think it’s going to help the team a lot to have the fans behind us. It’s a plus for the team too. And it’s important because we’re actually going to be hosting game and it’s going to feel like we’re actually hosting a game. Over the last couple of months we’ve been playing in so many different cities in different atmospheres, but now it’s going to feel like home.”
On the opening goal:
“It’s a passage of play we’ve been working on in training this week. It went from (Michael Baldisimo) to me, back to Baldi to Brian (White). (Cristian Dájome) made a great run while Brian got it back to me and I put it in for Dájo. It came off and it was a great goal from us.”
On the bigger picture:
“If you would put everything into the perspective from this week, we trained in Vancouver. There’s guys who don’t even have apartments in Vancouver. We have to travel back here for the game, it takes a toll on everyone. We have to do a better job of closing out games and staying focused in key moments because we know anything can change at any moment.”
On returning to Vancouver:
“We all know what the fans can do especially last week against LAFC, seeing all the fans in Black and Gold. We did that here tonight without fans but when we go back, its going to be such a boost for us to be playing in front of fans again. They’re definitely going to help make this team better.”