Simon Becher scores winner as Vancouver finds goals to edge Minnesota United 3-2
VANCOUVER — After a week of expressing confidence in his team's playing style and ability, Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini said he felt vindicated.
The Whitecaps scored three goals Saturday night — only the second time Vancouver has scored more than one goal in a regular-season game this season — to beat Minnesota United 3-2.
"I delivered," Sartini said before laughing when asked about having guaranteed a MLS win against the Loons the previous week.
"We are growing a lot. We've never been a team who has to manage a lot of leads and we need to be better at that."
Simon Becher scored the game-winner with his first touch as a substitute just seconds after being substituted on for striker Brian White.
White scored two goals, including the 50th of his career, before being substituted due to an injury while scoring his second off his thigh.
"It's definitely been difficult. There's been a lot of opportunities that for whatever reason just aren't falling in. Goalies are making good saves and some of them, I haven't been good enough in the final third," White said about his lack of goal production this season.
It was the second time Becher has played the hero for Vancouver against Minnesota.
The last time the Whitecaps and Minnesota squared off was in a 1-1 draw on March 25, when Becher scored the equalizer in the dying moments of the match.
Vancouver players and staff spoke before the match about their collective belief in the team's tactics and the belief that goals would come.
The Whitecaps finished with 17 shots, seven of which were on target, to Minnesota's 11 and five.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with the visitors not content to sit back against a Whitecaps team that looked to use its fullbacks as auxiliary wingers to aid their attacks.
White's first goal came after being sent through in a one-on-one against goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, with the U.S. striker calmly slotting it past the Canadian netminder.
Minnesota's goals came from former Whitecaps Michael Boxall in the 33rd minute after a mix-up between Vancouver's goalkeeper and defenders with a second coming in the 65th minute. The Whitecaps had set a club-record shutout streak of 443 minutes before conceding the first goal.
A defence-splitting cross found a wide open Sang Bin Jeong who calmly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka for the Loons' second goal.
Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath said after the game that he expected more from his team.
"We've got to start playing with more belief, a little bit more passion, a little bit more energy, a little bit more desire," he said. "If you don't want to compete, you're not going to win games."
Before the match, Minnesota announced that Argentine midfielder Emanuel Reynoso had returned to the squad four months after failing to report for training camp.
Reynoso had been suspended without pay for failing to appear.
The Whitecaps will visit York United in a Canadian Championship match on Wednesday, then travel to Portland to face the Cascadian rival Timbers in an MLS match next Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 6, 2023.
Nick Wells, The Canadian Press