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‘Caps Capitalize on Mistakes to Down Loons


Minnesota United’s struggles continued tonight, as they fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 at Allianz Field. A back-and-forth contest saw both sides create real chances, and while the scoreline ultimately went against them, the Loons demonstrated some fantastic attacking play. Unfortunately, the final touch was missing, and the losing streak continues.

Before any of the action got started, it was clear that MNUFC’s “4-4-2” was actually a 5-2-3. A back five of Joseph Rosales, Devin Padelford, Miguel Tapias, Michael Boxall, and Caden Clark sat behind the likes of Alejandro Bran and Hassani Dotson in midfield, while Robin Lod, Sang Bin Jeong, and Bongokuhle Hlongwane made up the front three. While this differed from the lineup on paper, it didn’t surprise anyone that’s watched the Loons before tonight.

With the mystery of the formation settled, the game got going a bit too quickly for the Black and Blue’s liking. After an under-hit back pass in the 4th minute, Vancouver’s Ryan Gauld pounced and laid the ball across the six, setting Brian White up for the easy go-ahead goal.

The Loons seemed shell-shocked, and despite their efforts to recover, the deficit doubled in the 17th minute after Vancouver’s clever crossing routine saw Ryan Gauld find the wide-open Mathías Laborda to make it two.

Both goals came from either a mistake or a lapse in defensive focus, and while there is no desirable way to concede, it’s easier to recover from a mistake than stop a team that is tearing you apart. Following the second goal, the Loons showed the kind of resilience that was needed.

Starting in the 25th minute, the home side began pushing more and more. They nearly converted when Yohei Takaoka was caught on an adventure outside his penalty box. Just two minutes later, a Vancouver handball in the box gave the Loons a PK.

Rosales’ ensuing shot was saved and sent out for a corner, which the Honduran took incredibly well to set his team up for a goal. His curling service found the head of Hassani Dotson just past the penalty spot, whose header to the back post was tapped in by a vigilant Bongi to make it 2-1 and grab some much-needed momentum for the home team.

Several more chances nearly saw the Loons go into the half with the score level, but it wasn’t happening. Their resilience continued into the second half, though, as the Black and Blue put together a quarter-hour passing clinic to start the half. Unfortunately, this period of beautiful soccer was ultimately fruitless.

In the 60th minute, against the run of play, Vancouver scored once again. Gauld bagged his third assist of the night by setting Sebastian Berhalter up for a decent long-range strike. The Loons were unlucky to be down two again, but they kept pushing.

A slew of crosses didn’t produce anything tangible, as MNUFC simply didn’t have the numbers in the box that they needed to or didn’t beat the first man. It was promising attacking play, with the kind of urgency needed at that point in the game, but no finishing touch to make it worthwhile.

Some lackadaisical passing in the back and large holes in the midfield didn’t set the home team up for success, and though they had moments of clear dominance, a failure to convert chances while playing on the front foot proved to be the Loons’ Achilles heel tonight. Alejandro Bran was fantastic at times in his return from Copa América, but the two-man midfield simply had too many gaps in possession to make it useful. This made it harder for the backline to find safe avenues forward, putting pressure on what should have been simple passes.

Good efforts from the ever-dangerous Joseph Rosales and hometown wingback Caden Clark were overshadowed by the scoreline but deserve plaudits nonetheless. It was a frustrating night overall for the Black and Blue, but they’ll need to recover quickly to take on the LA Galaxy this Sunday, July 7, at 9:30 p.m. CT on MLS Season Pass.