Report and Reaction: White definitely the colour for Vancouver as hat-trick hero sparks comeback win over St Louis

Report and Reaction: White definitely the colour for Vancouver as hat-trick hero sparks comeback win over St Louis

Vancouver Whitecaps found themselves two down and in turmoil just 12 minutes into their match with visiting St Louis City at BC Place on Saturday evening, but it was to be all White on the night for the home side after a Brian White hat-trick and a 90th minute match-winner Fafa Picault gave the ‘Caps three hugely important points.

A Njabulo Blom banger and an Eduard Löwen penalty had seen St Louis come out flying before giving up four unanswered goals. The visitors had fallen out of the game as an attacking threat for the last hour and Nökkvi Thórisson’s stoppage time goal made the scoreline more respectable than it probably should have been.

Vanni Sartini made five changes to the team that went down to a lacklustre defeat down in Portland last weekend, with two changes to his back three, as the Whitecaps lined up in an attack-minded 3-4-3 formation.

St Louis came into this one a side very much out of form. Even moreso than Vancouver. You wouldn’t have known it with their fast start.

The Whitecaps defence were on the back foot and under pressure early, and after a few scrambles in the box they found themselves behind just seven minutes in when Blom blasted one home from 20 yards out.

Yohei Takaoka was beaten at the near post by a shot he really should have kept out, but it looked like the ‘Caps were going to get a reprieve when referee Mark Allatin was called over for a video review for a possible foul.

After a lengthy overall review, Allatin felt Anthony Markanich hadn’t pushed down Sebastian Berhalter in the box and the goal stood.

A bad start for Vancouver, but worse was to quickly come when Javain Brown was deemed to have blocked a shot with his arm in the 11th minute and the visitor’s had a penalty.

Up stepped Loewen and the St Louis captain drilled the ball into the bottom right corner, just evading the gloves of a diving Takaoka.

Two down 12 minutes in, the ‘Caps were in a hole.

They finally got a foothold in the game and should have pulled one back in the 17th minute when Levonte Johnson got onto a Ryan Gauld cross but his shot was superbly turned away by Ben Lundt in the St Louis goal.

Johnson had another chance just before the half hour mark, rising to get onto a Ryan Raposo cross but heading over.

St Louis almost made it three in the 31st minute, but Takaoka denied John Klein from point blank range.

The ‘Caps were given a lifeline in the 37th minute when White got onto a long ball forward and his shot was sent looping into his own net by Jake Nerwinski.

It was White’s 6th goal of the season and Nerwinski’s 7th career Whitecaps assist, his first since 2018!

The Whitecaps took the game to the visitors to start the second half.

Brown crashed a header off a Gauld free kick off the left post in the 52nd minute, with Nerwinski clearing Bjorn Inge Utvik’s header off the line in the subsequent scramble.

Vancouver weren’t to be denied and White brought them level with a sublime back flick goal over the head of Lundt, quickly capitalising on Tomas Totland’s poor control of a dangerous header back from Nerwinski.

St Louis had pretty much fallen out of the game as an attacking threat, so it was no suprise when Vancouver went ahead for the first time on the night in the 61st minute.

And once again it was White that did the damage, rising above everyone to head home a pinpoint Raposo cross.

The goal was White’s second hat-trick as a Whitecap, his previous one coming against San Jose in 2021.

Although Vancouver were now running rampant, the game wasn’t put to bed just yet. That was to come in the 90th minute.

Ralph Priso played the ball forward to Luis Martins, who cut it back to Picault. The Haitian international didn’t have the best first touch, but it actually worked in his favour, giving him more room to get off the shot, which he buried with aplomb.

Tails up, Vancouver’s desire to score more left them open at the back and they threw St Louis a lifeline deep into stoppage time.

The visitors tore forward, catching a short-handed Whitecaps out and allowing Thórisson to pull one back, with Takaoka again being beaten at his near post.

There wasn’t enough time for any more twists in this one and Vancouver saw the game out for a huge three points.

It felt like a must-win game for the Whitecaps, but it was one that only saw them rise up one place in the standings. Two goals down and they had dropped to 10th and out of the playoff places altogether, which is how tight the Western Conference playoff race is right now. Has the ship been steadied? Well with a four-match road spell coming up in league and cup duty, we’ll soon get a better indication.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 4-3 St Louis City

ATT: 24,662

7’ – STL – Njabulo Blom
12’ – STL – Eduard Löwen (penalty kick)
37’ – VAN – Brian White
54’ – VAN – Brian White
61’ – VAN – Brian White (Ryan Raposo)
90’ – VAN – Fafa Picault (Luís Martins, Ralph Priso)
90’+3 – STL – Nökkvi Thórisson (Indiana Vassilev)

Possession: VAN 60.5 %- STL 39.5%
Shots: VAN 14 – STL 10
Shots on Goal: VAN 9 – STL 5
Saves: VAN 2 – STL 4
Fouls: VAN 11 – STL 9
Offsides: VAN 1 – STL 1
Corners: VAN 3 – STL 5

12’ – VAN – Javain Brown
26’ – STL – Anthony Markanich
49’ – STL – Jake Nerwinski

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Ranko Veselinović 84’), Mathías Laborda, Bjørn Inge Utvik; Ryan Raposo (Fafa Picault 62’), Sebastian Berhalter, Pedro Vite, Luís Martins; Ryan Gauld (Ralph Priso 84’), Brian White, Levonte Johnson (27.Giuseppe Bovalina 72’) [Substitutes not used: Joe Bendik, Isaac Boehmer, Tristan Blackmon, Belal Halbouni, Nicolas Fleuriau Chateau]

ST LOUIS: Ben Lundt; Tomas Totland, Jake Nerwinski, Anthony Markanich (Caden Glover 79’), Akil Watts; Chris Durkin, Njabulo Blom (Hosei Kijima 62’); Indiana Vassilev, Eduard Löwen, John Klein; Nökkvi Thórisson [Substitutes not used:
Christian Olivares; 26.Tim Parker, 33.Tyson Pearce, 80.Brendan McSorely, 99.Jayden Reid




On his team’s ability to come from behind and win the match:

“To be honest, we were two-nothing down, but it wasn’t a comeback of character. It was a comeback of being conscious of being a good team, to keep doing the things that we’re supposed to do. We were always calm and collected with the ball. We got to be honest also, St. Louis were missing some of their best players, so we even helped them at the beginning by scoring those two goals, but we knew that it was a chance for us to be in charge of the game and that’s what we did. We were able to get these three points back that are really important because we are, with two games in hand, potentially fourth. And we go now to play these two important games away, Minnesota and Montréal, a little light-hearted in the sense that instead of we have to win both, we have to do results in both, we want to do results in both but it’s not like the standings look that bad.”

On Brian White’s hat-trick:

“I am very happy for him. I think that everything happened when, after the first goal he scored, even if it was the deflection of Jake, the monkey that was on his shoulder went away. And when the monkey goes away, then you feel that free that even lucky things happen to you, because now you’re that positive and trying to go to score that goal and the second goal is actually like a lucky thing but the third goal is a goal that is a Brian White masterclass, like top of the top of the top. So I hope that it’s going to give him the confidence to smile, because we all love when Brian [White] smiles, and because the importance that he has for this team is astronomical, like I’ve said a million times, it’s not about the goals, it’s about the way that we play and it’s very tied to his quality of this performance and tonight was very, very good at that.”

On the second goal:

“Yeah, definitely a bit of luck…I was trying to bring the ball with me. Fortunately, it hit off my heel and went over him [St. Louis goalkeeper Ben Lundt]. Take what we can get, right?”

On getting back on the scoresheet:

“No. I think, for me, you have two options, like, it’s really only one option – you just keep going, you keep fighting, you keep trying to improve on the training pitch, you keep trying to get into the good positions, you keep trying to score. That’s the only way out of a bad slump. And just kept going. I had belief for my teammates, the staff, and just kept going, and fortunately I was able to get three tonight.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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