Minnesota United came into Wednesday’s midweek match with the Vancouver Whitecaps needing to take three points only a little more than they needed to take them away from the Caps, who sat just a point behind them in the standings. There wasn’t much between the two sides in the first half but then just before stoppage time, the Whitecaps nudged ahead on a defensive mistake. They then doubled the lead in the 63rd minute on a goal from Brian White and held on despite a late goal for Fanendo Adi to take it 2-1 and climb into fifth place as the Loons fell to eighth.
Both teams began the game pressing high — a characteristic that Vancouver have been leaning heavily on under interim Head Coach Vanni Sartini. Minnesota’s attacking players also put pressure on the backline and that resulted early in a back and forth game. Both the home side and the visitors looked to strike on the counterattack, although Minnesota found themselves often stymied near the edge of the box. In the 10th minute, midfielder Emanuel Reynoso had a golden opportunity as goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau hesitated on a long ball and let midfielder Franco Fragapane collect it on the left wing before centering it to Reynoso. Reynoso’s strike went high, though, and it was one of the better looks the Loons would get in the opening 45.
With relatively few whistles blown in the first half, the game had an open feel, but neither team seemed prepared to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and exert control. Shortly after the 20th minute, Minnesota’s focus shifted into building up possession and MNUFC did well to move the ball from left to right and back, but often found themselves doing it near the edge of the final third and not genuinely building up a threat.
Things tightened up as halftime drew near and players got a little more physical. It looked like the two sides would head into the tunnel deadlocked at 0-0 but then just before stoppage time kicked in, a defensive miscue led to the opening goal. Vancouver captain Russell Teibert pinged a long lofted pass forward and striker Brian White chested it down close to the edge of the box with Minnesota’s centerbacks in hot pursuit. Goalkeeper Tyler Miller came out aggressively and stopped White initial strike with an outstretched hand, but the rebound bounced off defender Michael Boxall’s foot and rolled into the goal, making it 1-0 as the teams headed for the locker rooms.
Needing to come out with more energy on the road, MNUFC did their best to press forward more and in the 62nd minute, they had their best opportunity of the night so far. Forward Adrien Hunou got the ball in space on the right side of the box and sent a shot through the legs of Crepeau. It curled towards the goal on the ground but bounced off the near post and there was no Minnesota player there to get the rebound. Moments later, Vancouver responded by charging down the pitch and getting the ball to midfielder Ryan Gauld on the left wing. Gauld centered it to a streaking White and the forward struck home his 12th goal of the season to make it 2-0.
Late on, Minnesota pulled back within one as subs Ethan Finlay and Fanendo Adi combined to get Adi his first goal of the season. Finlay centered it and Adi nodded it onto the post, then picked up and finished the rebound in stoppage time, but there wasn’t enough time for MNUFC to claw their way back into the game as they fell 2-1 to the Whitecaps and dropped out of playoff contention.