Report and Reaction: Brian White brace helps extend Whitecaps’ MLS unbeaten run to eight

Report and Reaction: Brian White brace helps extend Whitecaps’ MLS unbeaten run to eight

Streaks are made to be broken, and while Yohei Takaoka’s new club record 433 minutes without giving up a goal was unceremoniously ended by Minnesota United’s Michael Boxall, Vancouver Whitecaps extended their unbeaten MLS run to eight matches with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at BC Place on Saturday evening.

A Brian White brace and a goal for Simon Becher within 29 seconds of stepping onto the pitch saw the ‘Caps get over the line, although Jeong Sang-Bin’s 65th minute goal and a string of late chances for the visitors made things a lot closer for comfort than the Whitecaps would have liked.

Vanni Sartini moved away from the Christmas tree formation for this one, tinkering just slightly to send the team out in a 4-3-1-2 shape, with just one change from last week’s draw with Colorado as Alessandro Schopf returned from injury to replace Ali Ahmed in the midfield.

The Whitecaps were on the front foot from the start and carved out the first real chances seven minutes in when Julian Gressell played the ball across the visitor’s goal but just beyond the reach of Pedro Vite to tuck it away.

The breakthrough came in the 17th minute after some fantastic pressing play by Andres Cubas saw Wil Trapp turn the ball over. The Paraguayan pounced on the loose ball and played a perfectly weighted pass forward for White to run on to. The ‘Caps striker left his Minnesota defender Miguel Tapias trailing, bore down on goal, and coolly slotted the ball home under the onrushing Dayne St Clair to give Vancouver a deserved lead.

It was the first Whitecaps goal in 213 MLS minutes and almost immediately after, Takaoka surpassed the club’s MLS clean sheet record when the clock ticked past the 18th minute.

But the Whitecaps wanted more, continuing to take the game to Minnesota.

A Julian Gressel cross-come-shot was parried away by St Clair in the 20th minute and the ‘Caps kept pressing, but from nothing really, Minnesota got themselves back on level terms in the 33rd minute, as Takaoka’s shutout streak was abruptly ended at the 433 minute mark.

The ‘Caps keeper failed to collect the ball from Sang-Bin’s corner, dropping the ball under the attention of Robin Lod. As the ball bounced around in the six yard box, Kiwi international Boxall was there to poke the ball home like a dagger into his former side’s heart and tie things up.

The Whitecaps should have gone in to the break with the lead when the ball came to White in front of goal in the 45th minute from a great cross in from Gressell, but the striker’s first time effort was kept out by the leg of a diving St Clair. Credit to the keeper on the big save but White had to keep it away from shooting straight at the keeper.

Moments later St Clair came out to deny White with another leg save. As the ‘Caps kept the pressure on from the loose ball, Ryan Gauld whipped the ball in to Vite, but he could only direct his header well wide.

A promising, if ultimately unproductive end to the first half, but the Whitecaps kept their pedal to the metal after the restart and were rewarded with a second goal for White in the 52nd minute.

As Minnesota failed to clear the danger from a corner, Ranko Veselinovic got his head on the ball to knock it forward to White, who finished off his cock/thigh (subject to debate!) from close range, getting a clattering from St Clair for his troubles, but looking on as the ball trundled over the line to put Vancouver ahead once again.

Delight was to quickly turn to despair for White, who was suffering the ill-effects from the St Clair clattering and had to be subbed off. Becher was the man to replace him and talk about making an immediate impact as 29 seconds after stepping onto the pitch, the young striker was bulging the net with Vancouver’s third.

Cubas forced another Minnesota turnover, pressuring Lod into a sloppy backpass that was intercepted by Gauld. The Scotsman then played a perfect pass outside for Becher to drill home and give Vancouver a 3-1 lead with 56 minutes gone.

But if the ‘Caps thought they could breathe a bit easier, the Loons had other ideas and pulled one back in the 65th minute.

Lod played a delightful through ball to Sang Bin, who somehow managed to find himself wide open on the edge of the box, and the South Korean forward made no mistake in firing past Takaoka to give the visitor’s some hope.

The goal sparked the visitors into life and they sensed they could get back onto level terms, and they should have.

Minnesota sub Mender Garcia had a couple of chances to get that goal, first of all unable to dig the ball out of the turf to finish off a cross and then bringing a save out of Takaoka in the space of a minute.

Minnesota nearly grabbed a dramatic 95th minute equaliser when Sang-Bin curled one inches wide of the postage stamp corner, but Vancouver breathed a collective sigh of relief and held on for a big three points in a match Sartini had described as a “must win”.

It was a deserved, and much needed, win for the Whitecaps and one that moves them up to 7th in the Western Conference standings. They’ll certainly be hoping that White’s injury isn’t too severe with a heavy schedule of matches coming up. If it isn’t and they can get White and Becher fully firing and converting more of the chances that they are creating, they could get some key points on the board before the tough summer months kick in.

Next up though is the Canadian Championship and a long trip east to take on CPL side York United on Wednesday. The defending champs will certainly want to start that campaign off in style.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 3 – 2 Minnesota United

ATT: 14,047

17’ – VAN – Brian White (Andrés Cubas)
33’ – MIN – Michael Boxall
52’ – VAN – Brian White (Ranko Veselinović)
56’ – VAN – Simon Becher (Ryan Gauld)
65’ – MIN – Sang Bin Jeong (Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Robin Lod)

Possession: VAN 47% – MIN 53%
Shots: VAN 17 – MIN 11
Shots on Goal: VAN 7 – MIN 5
Saves: VAN 3 – MIN 3
Fouls: VAN 8 – MIN 9
Offsides: VAN 1 – MIN 0
Corners: VAN 8 – MIN 5

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown, Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Luís Martins (Ryan Raposo 78’); Julian Gressel, Andrés Cubas, Alessandro Schöpf (Russell Teibert 64’); Pedro Vite; Brian White (Simon Becher 55’), Ryan Gauld (Mathías Laborda 78’) [Substitutes not used:
Thomas Hasal, Déiber Caicedo, Sergio Córdova, Sebastian Berhalter, Ali Ahmed]

MINNESOTA: Dayne St.Clair; D.J. Taylor, Michael Boxall, Miguel Tapias, Kemar Lawrence; Wil Trapp (Hassani Dotson 78’), Robin Lod; Bongokuhle Hlongwane (Ménder García 66’), Sang Bin Jeong, Franco Fragapane (Brent Kallman 66’); Luis Amarilla (Joseph Rosales 29’) [Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Eric Dick, Zarek Valentin, Cameron Dunbar]




On the performance:

“We are very good but we are growing a lot. We have never been a team who has to manage a lot of leads, and we need to be better at that. We scored, ok let’s keep our business intact, let’s keep the ball a little more and go on.”

On managing the game:

“I think in the first half we were too excited. We didn’t manage the game like we managed in the previous games, by keeping the ball in possession more. We wanted to go at them every time. That brought us a lot of chances, but also it’s a huge amount of energy and you could see that at the end we weren’t brilliant like we normally are.”

On his squad’s depth:

“I think that Simon [Becher] is an extremely good weapon to the team, especially when the game goes forward and sometimes even when starting the game. So yeah it’s a good thing to do, we had Déiber [Caicedo] and Sergio [Córdova] on the bench today. So you guys, again I’m saying this like a broken record, this year is going to be special, because we have a very good team.”

On facing York United in the Canadian Championship next week:

“It’s a big challenge, because we have to travel across the country and travel for five hours. York is a good team. On the other fact that the situation that they unfortunately are [in], I think it’s going to give them an extra motivation to play against an MLS team, to try to make something special even from a difficult situation they are in. To be honest, last year when we played in the semi final against them, they were extremely organized defensively. So I think it’s going to be really hard. Of course, I think we are going to have more of the ball than them we’re going to probably be on the front foot more than them. But I don’t think it’s going to be easy. We need to be very careful, because in this game everything can go on the wrong side and then it’s going be a disaster, so let’s go to the next one.”


On his goals:

“For the first one, I just got it, started running, Andrés [Cubas] played a good ball in. The second one, I saw Ranko was going to go for that header so I just tried to stay alive in the box and I was able to get a thigh on it and knock it in. It was important to get three points at home. It’s a big thing for us after a lot of ties, so it’s pretty good to finally get three points.”

On the attacking depth:

“We’ve got good players in good positions, there’s always going to be competition to play. That’s what brings out the best in players and it’s good to have three healthy forwards and see how many goals we can get, it’s a good thing to get a healthy goal competition.”


On the win:

“I think it was very good. It was a good game from us, especially the first half. I think we had like three or four big chances to score. We only scored one but if you see all the 90 minutes it was a very good game.”

On his first start since coming back from injury:

“Yeah I felt good, I was out for four weeks, I still need to improve a little bit my match fitness. It’s totally different to only train and play 65, almost 70 minutes. So yeah of course, but it will come with training with every game I get now. First start was good, I hope to do even better on the next games.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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