Erik Godoy (22) celebrates his goal with his Whitecaps teammates early in the first half of Vancouver’s home opener against Minnesota United on Saturday.
Ben Nelms /
The Canadian Press
It turns out chemistry wasn’t the science the Vancouver Whitecaps needed to work on. It was more along the lines of electrical engineering.The Vancouver Whitecaps had taken a 1-0 lead against Minnesota United FC Saturday afternoon at B.C. Place when a rash of errant passes short-circuited their game, ultimately leading to a 3-2 defeat in their season and home-opening game.With a team that had seen 21 players go out the door and 15 come in — both the most in MLS, outside of the expansion sides — most of the attention this week was paid to how the team would work together.“I don’t want to excuse with ‘chemistry,’ I don’t want to talk too much about that,” Caps coach Marc Dos Santos said after his first official game in charge.“I want to focus on the soccer part. A lot of times in North America we talk about things in general (terms) and not enough about the soccer part.“The soccer part is (today) we had spaces to play sometimes, and instead of connecting short passes that the options were on, we decided to go over the top … and that disconnected our game.”After Erik Godoy put the home side up 1-0 after six minutes, but Minnesota scored the next three Darwin Quintero (37th), Francisco Calvo (66th) and Romario Ibarra (70th) scored for the Loons (1-0). Doneil Henry scored his first MLS goal since 2014 in the 81st minute, but the Loons held on under a flurry of pressure.Here’s what we learned …Ready, get set, goThe Whitecaps lead the league in set-piece goals with 18 in 2017, then plummeted down the ranks with seven goals in 2018, the third-lowest total.Much had been made of the team’s lack of height this season working against them on set pieces, but they got two of them on Saturday, both going to centrebacks and their tallest players. Godoy redirected a free kick from Yordy Reyna, while Henry connected on a corner-kick play from Inbeom Hwang and “PC” Giro.“I spoke so much about us being fragile on set plays, and we score two on set plays,” said Dos Santos, adding they’d watched a lot of film of Godoy’s work on set pieces in Argentina’s first division.“It was two good deliveries, two good plays.”Henry’s goal was just his third in MLS.“I scored an own goal last season,” he said to laughs after being asked when he last scored.It was actually a 92nd-minute game-winner, coming on May 31, 2014 in 3-2 TFC victory over the Crew — also off a set piece.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Derek Cornelius (13) plays the ball against Minnesota United’s Miguel Ibarra (10) during the first half MLS soccer action in Vancouver on Saturday, March 2, 2019.
BEN NELMS /
THE CANADIAN PRESS
What was deliveredThe game ended with near-even possession — 50.5 for Minnesota — but the Loons outshot the Caps 15-10 overall, though it was an even 4-4 overall on target.Midfielder Jon Erice had 101 pass attempts on the night, the most since Felipe had a team-record 111 against Colorado in July last season. The Spaniard had 116 touches in this game, the second-most in the team’s MLS history — also behind Felipe, who had 139 in the same Colorado game.Erice was a key fulcrum for the Caps, but was also involved in the turnovers that cost Vancouver the last two goals.“The decision-making on the ball wasn’t good,” said Dos Santos. “I already know when I am going to watch video of the game that there are a lot of moments that we have possession, and suddenly we take the decision to go over the top looking for Fredy between (Michael) Boxall and (Ike) Opara. That’s bad decision making, and we know that. If we’re just a little bit cleaner in those moments, then we’ll have players like Felipe, Jon, Inbeom, more in the opponent’s half, and that’s where you can originate more offence.”The Loons knew the Caps would be vulnerable on the left, with Derek Cornelius — a former striker who’s only played centreback for two years — was pressed into service as left back with an injury to Brett Levis keeping the presumed starter out of action.They forced the issue down the flank with Miguel Ibarra and Quintero putting the pressure on the 21-year-old. The Ajax, Ont., native stood up well for the most part under pressure, with Minnesota only getting behind him a few times, including Quintero’s cross that led to Jake Nerwinski’s penalty-kick inducing file.“It’s unfair … to judge him in that position,” said Dos Santos.”He’s been a very good player playing as a centreback all preseason. And because of an emergency … and us making sure we had some height on set plays, he was playing in a position that was rushed for him. I applaud him and am happy he did this for the team. But it’s not his true position.”firstname.lastname@example.org/TheRealJJAdamsNEXT GAMESaturday, March 9Vancouver Whitecaps at Real Salt Lake3 p.m., Rio Tinto Stadium, TV: TSN, Radio: TSN 1040 AMCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com