The City of Vancouver coat of arms reads: By Sea, Land and Air We Prosper. For Brian White and the Vancouver Whitecaps the latter two of those three was quite true in claiming a 3-0 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place on Saturday night. White scored all three goals in the match – the first coming from his right foot as he ran onto a rebound and the final two were headers as a result of his aerial prowess.
White has hit a prosperous vein of form that coincides with the ‘Caps only losing one in their last fifteen matches. The three goals bring the American’s tally to nine on the campaign, which see him pass winger/striker Cristian Dàjome, who remains on eight as the team’s leading scorer. Since his in-season move to Vancouver from Red Bull New York, White has become a much appreciated and valued member of the squad and the Whitecaps are really starting to reap the rewards from the trade.
After starting on the bench in Wednesday’s away fixture in Houston, White returned to the starting lineup in place of designated player, Lucas Cavallini. The Canadian DP only has three goals to his name so far this campaign, annd was not in the squad for tonight’s match due to injury. The exclusion of Vancouver’s number nine was one of six changes to the starting eleven from coach Vanni Sartini, who sought to refreshen things up following the stale stalemate in Texas.
One thing that didn’t change was the formation. Sartini now seems to favour the 3-4-1-2. One of the reasons for this is that the interim gaffer continues to look to get the most he can from the talismanic Ryan Gauld. He replaced his namesake Ryan Raposo in the starting lineup in the number 10 spot. Other changes saw Javain Brown and Patrick Metcalfe replaced as the wide players by the inclusion of Bruno Gaspar and Dàjome dropping back from his preferred striker role. Former Earthquake Flo Jungwirth came in for Michael Baldisomo in the back three, captain Russell Teibert came into the middle of the park for Janio Bikel, and Déiber Caicedo took Dàjome’s spot up top next to White.
San Jose, who lost at home midweek 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders, on the other hand only made two changes to their starting side with Luciano Abecasis and Cristian Espinoza replacing Shea Salinas and Carlos Fierro. The lack of rotation seemed odd from head coach Matías Almeyda, especially as he usually demands so much hard work, on and off the ball, from his players. The Argentine’s side lacked spark and the spirit which has seen them have a better away record than at home.
The first half began with more impetus from Vancouver than their lacklustre goalless draw in Houston. The inspirational Ryan Gauld showing early why he is someone who will bring in the fans to see this team play. In a move he helped start with a flick on header from an Andy Rose clearance, Gauld got onto the end of an awkward height cross from Teibert. Instead of lashing at it or trying to get his head on it, the Scotsman caressed it with his magical left foot and then hit it on the half volley. The strike unfortunately lacked the quality of the move that set it up and only warmed the gloves of San Jose ‘Keeper JT Marcinkowski.
The teams traded shots wide (Dájome 8th minute) and high (Espinoza 11th minute) before Leo Owusu was justifiably booked for his studs going into the side of Eric Remedi’s foot. Being on a yellow didn’t stop the Ghanaian from getting stuck in and it was this attitude that helped bring the match to life.
In the 26th minute Owusu lunged in to reclaim a short pass from Caicedo in the San Jose half. As he won possession he played the ball forward to White who in turn quickly played in Gauld for a clear chance on goal. Marcinkowski did his best to parry Gauld’s effort, but it was right into the path of the onrushing White, who tapped home with ease for Vancouver’s opening goal.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) October 3, 2021
Quality chances were few and far between in the remainder of the first 45 minutes and Almayda knew he needed to take action. This led him to pulling off Judson at halftime in place of former Whitecap Shea Salinas. The change didn’t bring the desired effect and the game continued to long for quality chances.
The next best opportunity fell to Brian White who was sent in on the right inside channel of the box following some pressing that saw Bruno Gaspar pick off a pass. White controlled Gaspar’s pass and went in alone on Marcinkowski, but this time the San Jose shot stopper got his frame in the way to keep White and the ‘Caps at bay.
An extension to Vancouver’s lead was only denied momentarily though as from the resulting throw-in Gauld won a free kick on the right side by where the 18-yard box intersects with the touchline. Gauld poised to take it with his left ended up being a decoy and Caicedo lofted in a simple right footed cross to find hero of the night White, who headed home after finding space between Salinas and Nathan on the edge of the San Jose six-yard box.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) October 3, 2021
Almeyda tried to stop the bleeding and bring about a drastic change by making four subs at once in the 63rd minute, but to no avail. After swapping a few yellow cards, the final decisive moment of the match was another header from a set play for the seemingly unstoppable Brian White.
This time Gauld did get credit for the assist as he took the out swinging left footed corner, which White rose to nod home and complete his hat trick. San Jose, who has been known for their ability to man mark at a high level will be disappointed to have conceded from another free header.
Vancouver have now scored 25 second half goals, which is in the top quarter of the League.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) October 3, 2021
Brian White received the adulation of the supporters when he was subbed off in the 86th minute for his Man of the Match performance. At the other end of the pitch Maxime Crépeau only had five saves to make but did all he needed, in conjunction with his defenders, to keep San Jose at bay and claim another clean sheet. He now heads off for World Cup Qualifying with Canada and misses Vancouver’s next match away to Seattle Sounders next Saturday.
The upcoming Cascadia Cup clash is vital for Vancouver’s continued playoff push. They are one point out of the final spot for the MLS post-season knockout competition, which is their stated goal. The trip down the I-5, or via the sea waters of the coast, will go some way in defining if this season is truly prosperous.
The ‘Caps are in-form and won’t be fazed by a trip to the Western Conference leaders. Building on three straight clean sheets will be key, but they will head there with a lot of confidence.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 0 San Jose Earthquakes
Possession: VAN 40.1% – SJ 59.9%
Shots: VAN 17 – SJ 11
Shots on Goal: VAN 6 – SJ 5
Saves: VAN 5 – SJ 3
Fouls: VAN 14 – SJ 12
Offsides: VAN 2 – SJ 2
Corners: VAN 4 – SJ 4
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Florian Jungwirth, Andy Rose, Jake Nerwinski; Bruno Gaspar (Javain Brown 68), Russell Teibert, Leonard Owusu (Janio Bikel 86), Cristian Dájome; Ryan Gauld (Ryan Raposo 86); Brian White (Kamron Habibullah 86), Déiber Caicedo (Tosaint Ricketts 71) [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Marcus Godinho, Patrick Metcalfe, Michael Baldisimo]
SAN JOSE: JT Marcinkowski; Luciano Abecasis (Cade Cowell 64), Nathan, Oswaldo Alanís (Andrés Ríos 64), Marcos López (Carlos Fierro 64); Judson (Shea Salinas 46), Jackson Yueill; Cristian Espinoza, Eric Remedi, Javier López; Benji Kikanovic (Chris Wondolowski 64) [Substitutes not used: Daniel Vega, Paul Marie, Tanner Beason, Tommy Thompson]
Thoughts on the match:
“We did very well. We’ll have to watch the game again. But I think the approach and a lot of things that we worked on the previous week and in this week went very well. The pressure was fantastic. The movement of the midfielders when we had the ball, the central defenders, to be honest [everyone did] what they were supposed to do to the team. And so, I will say, congratulations to the players because they did fantastically today.”
On Brian White:
“He is a good player. I want to praise him because I want to praise the team in the sense that he does what he is supposed to do for the team, and the team helps him out to be in the right position. He is very good when we need to press. I would it’s a good spot because he’s a very selfless player, and being selfless also helps you to be even the protagonist sometimes. Because that’s the key for us to try to win more games, thinking about as a we and not as a group of I’s, and, and he’s very good at that.”
On the match:
“It was a good game I think all around for the team, and it was an important three points for us at home. Like I always say, just trying to be alive in the box. I was fortunate that the first goal fell to me and that was a tap in. So you know, I was happy to be in the right place, the right time. Then two good crosses, just to get my head on and get it in the back of the net. I think it was a great team performance, it really helped put me in good spots with the ball, great crosses, so it made my job easy. I’m not even sure when my last hat-trick was, it’s been quite a while.”
On how he’s fit in so well:
“Just a great locker room, a great group of guys who make it really easy for me to just come in here, work hard for the team and, you know, trying to do the best I can for this team. Being able to play with guys like Dajo, Deiber, Ryan up front, obviously makes my life a whole lot easier when they have such great quality. So I’m fortunate to come into a team with such great players, such great guys in the locker room, and I’m just trying to make the most of it.”
On the progression of the club:
“Yes, since 2019, the rebuild. It’s been quite a ride, you know, 2019, 2020 pandemic, travel, all that stuff, being away from home. Now we’re back here and we’re in a playoff push. The guys are really sticking together on and off the field. It’s a really tight group on the field. Tonight, from the first minute everyone was disciplined mentally, really concentrated on the task of winning tonight. Tactically, technically, it was on point as well. I’m super happy for Brian as well, three goals for him tonight is big, he deserves it. The whole team and the whole club deserves it because we’ve been working hard the last few months and tonight we have the win and once again we are in that playoff push.”
On a third straight clean sheet:
“It’s a club effort, it’s not just me. The guys are putting bodies on the line, they’re working so hard, tactically shifting across from the back three to the four midfield and the front three. It’s a club effort, and everyone deserves these clean sheets. That’s the most important thing for me. We talked yesterday before the game after the training, and I just want the team to be above the red line at the end of 34 regular season games.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
On the plan for tonight’s match:
“We had to make movements to free up players in certain zones. Those movements were slow. I thought the match was even in the first half. On three or four occasions, we were able to have the control we were looking for. We met a team that has been growing in important ways, with a secure system of play. We knew that if we conceded a goal, it would be hard to turn it around because they are secure on defense. In the second half, we took more risks. The set piece played a fundamental factor against us.”
On having important players return from injury:
“Tanner Beason was almost available for the match. I didn’t want to risk it because he’s had a minor injury. I thought if he rested this game, he would recover back to 100 percent. Surely after this break in the season, he will be available for selection. Jeremy Ebobisse’s situation depends primarily on him. It’s a matter of him feeling sure. At this moment, he has shown that he is not yet ready to play.”
On the team becoming more stable:
“We have to keep improving but we have less and less time. We’re talking about the last six games and a projection of our future in which there is some instability. Personally, I’d like to plan for what is coming up. We have to live day by day, we’d love to plan for the future, but the reality is different.”
On what went wrong tonight:
“There are some things that we have to work on. We have to work to improve things defensively and on set pieces. There were two difficult set pieces and we have to be sharper. This is soccer. We are working hard. We have six more games to keep going and improve things.”
On lapses on set pieces and the team’s morale:
“Like you said, we have worked hard to improve on set pieces. We have to continue talking to each other and there are some details that we need to improve. The other [non-set-piece] goal was another that we have to take more care and there are many things we have to work on. But we’re positive in thinking about what’s next and the six games we have left.”