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Post Match: Whitecaps fall in season opener to Minnesota United 3-2.

Marc Dos Santos’ Whitecaps struggle for chemistry in their season opener, but still find plenty of positives in defeat.

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Marc Dos Santos & the Vancouver Whitecaps fell to Minnesota United in their 2019 home opener Saturday afternoon at BC Place by a score of 3-2.

Starting Lineups

There weren’t too many surprises in the Whitecaps starting lineup, but with Brett Levis out with an injury, the left back position was an obvious question mark going into the match. Although it had been reported that Derek Cornelius had been training as a full-back earlier this week, it was an interesting tactical decision to see Marc Dos Santos favour him over PC in the starting XI.

Additionally, it was nice to see that MDS was keen to insert Inbeom Hwang into the starting XI on day one, rather than favouring a lower risk option such as Andy Rose who saw a lot of time in the preseason.

At Goalkeeper, Canadian Maxime Crepeau got the nod over MLS veteran Zac MacMath.

For Minnesota United, the starting lineup was pretty much as was expected, with Ozzie Alonso & Ike Opara making their Loons’ debuts.

Key Moments

Only minutes into the match, and on their very first set-piece of the season, Argentinian newcomer Eric Godoy got the Whitecaps on the board off a beautifully floated ball from Yordy Reyna.

Minnesota’s marking on the set piece was simply dreadful, leaving Godoy all alone in front of goal, and there will will also be some questions as to whether or not Loons’ Goalkeeper Vito Mannone should have come off his line sooner. Regardless, the Whitecaps got off to a dream start, taking an early 1-0 lead.

The flow of play began to turn as the Loons settled into the match, and in the 32nd minute, Minnesota defender Fransisco Calvo ripped a powerful shot off the outside of the crossbar.

Calvo was active again just minutes later, as Jake Nerwinski found himself overcommitted on a Loons’ cross, keeping the play onside, and proceeded to rather brashly take down Calvo in the box. Minnesota United front-man Darwin Quintero would convert from the spot, tying the match at 1-1.

Conceding the penalty was a disappointing moment for Nerwinski, who had been bright defensively up until that point in the half.

In the second half, the Loons’ duo of Calvo and Quintero caused trouble for the Whitecaps yet again. After a sloppy midfield turnover by Lass Bangoura, Quintero lobbed a pass straight onto the head of a diving Francisco Calvo, who found the back of the net.

Less than five minutes later, the Whitecaps would surrender another very similar goal, this time with Quintero applying pressure on Whitecaps midfielder Jon Erice, who turned the ball over before Erik Godoy accidentally deflected Romario Ibarra’s shot past a helpless Maxime Crepeau.

The Whitecaps would spring back to life in the 80th minute, closing within one on their second set-piece goal of the afternoon, which came off the head of Whitecaps’ defender Doneil Henry.

The Caps would have a few opportunities late on, but unfortunately for the home side, it was too little too late as they fell to the visiting Loons by a score of 3-2.

Game Notes

Considering the massive roster overhaul which took place in the offseason, this is probably about as good of a performance as could have been expected from the Whitecaps on day one, especially when you consider how little playing and training time this team has had together as a full squad.

I thought that especially up until the third Minnesota United goal, both Jon Erice and Erik Godoy were very impressive defensively. For the most part, they balanced being aggressive tacklers while not giving away cheap fouls, and also managed to distribute the ball well once they had won it back.

In midfield, it seemed clear that Inbeom Hwang and Felipe are still working out their chemistry. Felipe made a few nice passes and Inbeom looked better and better as the match went on, but it would be nice to see them link up more often as they grow comfortable with one another.

Other than the two set piece goals, it looked as though it was really difficult for the Whitecaps to create high quality scoring chances. Again, at this point in the season, I think this probably just boils down to a lack of chemistry. This was particularly noticeable through the lack of involvement that both Montero and Ardaiz had at striker.

Lass Bangoura looks like an exciting winger for the Whitecaps moving forward, who loves to take on players with the ball at his feet. There’s a lot to feel positive about from his first appearance in Vancouver.

Last but not least, after looking a bit shaky in the first half, Doneil Henry showed out in the second forty-five. He came up with some huge tackles and clearances while the match was still tied, and chipped in a goal to give the Caps hope late-on. This was nice to see after Henry experienced some very unfortunate moments near the end of last season.

Stats Deep-Dive

  • The Whitecaps only barely lost the possession battle, holding the ball 49.5% of the time.
  • Doneil Henry had 5 clearances and 4 interceptions in the match.
  • The Whitecaps had only 2 shots on target, the Loons had 10.
  • The Whitecaps completed only 73% of their passes overall and just 64% in the attacking half.
  • Erik Godoy won 5 of his 6 duels.

Eighty-Six Forever Man of the Match

This was a very difficult choice as almost every Whitecaps player had both good and bad moments over the course of 90 minutes, but I’m giving my MOTM to Argentinian newcomer Erik Godoy.

Godoy looked quite composed out on the pitch and I imagine that he will only grow more comfortable as he settles into the team. While there may still be some communication issues on the backline and his deflection on the third goal was certainly unfortunate, Godoy looks to be a promising player for the Whitecaps moving forward and could be a significant improvement to the Whitecaps’ quality at centre-back. Always good to score a goal on your debut as well!

As always, let us know your thoughts on the match. Who was your MOTM? Were you encouraged by this performance or are you concerned by the lack of cohesion?