After what has been a brutal few weeks, the Vancouver Whitecaps managed to halt their losing skid and at least pick-up a point following their first ever trip to Minnesota United’s new stadium the Allianz Arena.
Television broadcasts had it as a 4-3-3 while the official accounts of the Vancouver Whitecaps had it listed as a 4-3-2-1 that lined up against Minnesota. Theo Bair retained his place in the starting XI, while Erik Godoy got the night off to begin. Fredy Montero also returned to the team following his ‘mountain out of a molehill’ resting midweek and wearing the Captain’s armband to boot.
To start the game, it took all of 2 minutes for Darwin Quintero to find half a yard of space, while his shot was blocked, Ethan Finlay was able to get a left footed shot off that crept just wide of Maxime Crepeau’s left post.
Doneil Henry was the subject of an aerial duel with Darwin Quintero that the Colombian flew towards with his hands and knee raised, striking the big man in the back. It could have been worthy of a yellow, and certainly would have been had the roles been reversed in the challenge. Then, after just 10 minutes, Henry was left holding his right hamstring having suffered a recurrence of the hamstring problem that has sidelines him far more than anyone would like.
Henry was forced from the game and replaced by Erik Godoy next to Derek Cornelius in the heart of defence.
Things were pretty tight through the early stages of the match. Then in the 18’ minute Angelo Rodriguez deflected an incoming ball from Ali Adnan’s free kick that beat Vito Mannone but just rattled the crossbar as it stayed out. So close to a break that the Whitecaps could have desperately used early in the match.
As the half went on, things started to get pretty scrappy. Felipe was fouled a few times and didn’t get the call his way. While some of them were certainly questionable as late challenges, the Brazilian though is perfectly capable of dishing it out himself though and was booked for one of the ‘softer’ fouls of the half moments after complaining to the referee about the treatment he was seeing from the likes of Alonso and co.
Ali Adnan then got into an argument and was shoved by Rodriguez, and despite the altercation being in plain view the referee decided not to card the Minnesota striker.
Moments later, as the match atmosphere started to boil towards the end of the half, a ball through found Rodriguez in space 25 yards out and surging toward the D, only for Adnan to make an excellent sliding challenge. The ball though, fell to Quintero who snuck inside Adnan and from virtually the left hand touchline smashed the ball off the post.
Again, the ‘Caps kept the Loons at bay, and were able to go in level at 0-0 following the first half. While they were in the match, the attack is shockingly still missing, with the only real chances being the deflection that hit the cross bar and a Theo Bair effort late in the half that bounced once then straight into Mannone’s hands.
The second half picked up right where the two teams left off, with every call contested by the aggrieved team. The “caps were certainly under the skin of Minnesota, and there were actually a few chances ten minutes in for the ‘Caps.
On 53’ minutes, Yordy Reyna found some space in the area and was picked out by Jake Nerwinski with a good cross from the right side. Reyna pivoted and volleyed at goal and made great contact in fairness only to hit it straight at the Target on Mannone’s jersey.
Moments later, Fredy Montero decided to take one on from 35’ yards and fired a knuckling shot that nearly snuck between the Italian’s legs. Not to be though.
While the possession numbers, the shots, crosses and pretty much every stat went the way of Minnesota through the first hour, the ‘Caps were at least still in the contest. They had their moments, whether it was Inbeom, Felipe and Teibert matching the midfield battle, or Theo Bair positioning himself well enough that he should have made a few opportunities for himself on the break but for some misplaced touches.
On 64 minutes, Yordy Reyna picked the ball up in the middle of the park promptly turned and raced past Jan Gregus before unleashing a shot from 30 yards that was dipping into Mannone’s bottom right corner but the Italian managed to palm it away.
With the tide turning for the Whitecaps, Minnesota made two changes in the 66’ minute bringing on Mason Toye for Rodriguez up top and Abu Danladi for Ethan Finlay on the right flank.
Moments later, Ali Adnan played a ball to Reyna who was running into space outside of the area before being fouled by Gregus, despite Reyna lying in a heap from the challenge, his teammates took the freekick quickly and Montero did manage to test Mannone, though yet again the Italian was able to make the save.
Looking for answers to unlock the United defence themselves, MDS opted to swap Venuto for Bair on 72’ minutes, only for Mason Toye to find space in the area moments later. Luckily for the Whitecaps the young forward fired over from the edge of the six-yard box.
With 10 minutes to go, Brett Levis came in for Montero who did put in a shift on the night, while managing to get two of his four shots on goal.
Following the substitution things really opened up, as Reyna nearly beat Boxhall to a driven early ball from Adnan, then from a Minnesota long throw Boxall himself headed the ball off the joist of the Crepeau’s goal.
This was the best performance I’ve seen from the Felipe on the year, on the night he completed 82% of his passes, made four clearances, six recoveries while winning 6 of his 13 duels.
The Caps also did a great job stifling Darwin Quintero who got a sniff of goal at the death after a very wide 1-2 with Danladi, but at the end of the day the Colombian only managed to complete 26 of 41 passes on the night, to go with getting one of his five shots on target.
At the end of it all though, both sides settle for a draw and for the first time in what feels like forever, the ‘Caps kept a clean sheet while managing to move themselves out of dead last in the Western Conference.
Is this positive? The ‘Caps don’t get a win, but did manage to hold 44.4% of possession on the night, while also managing to get five shots on target to Minnesota’s lone effort. They also just barely edged the duels count winning 50 to the Loons’ 49.