PREVIEW – The Vancouver Whitecaps continue their search for their first win of the season, this time going away from home to Minnesota United FC. With both teams missing key players due to a FIFA international window, it will be a game reliant on squad depth and adaptability. The recent run of form for both teams does not include games in the preseason.
Vancouver Whitecaps vs Minnesota United FC In 2022 Grudge Match
Vancouver Whitecaps Recent Run of Form (1-2-2)
The Whitecaps have drawn their last two games after losing their initial two, making them winless in four. The Whitecaps, however, came away from their latest match with a hard-fought point, drawing 1-1 against LA Galaxy. Both teams had great chances to score, and while Galaxy had two goals chalked off after VAR review, it was most likely a fair result given the chances and play. Whitecaps fans will rejoice in having a game without conceding a goal directly off or shortly after a set-piece, their first MLS game without conceding such a goal this season.
The real concern now is in the attack, as no forward player has scored for the Whitecaps in their last four matches. It has fallen to defenders (with two) and midfielders (with one) to carry that load.
With an attack boasting talent with the likes of Pedro Vite, Cristian Dajome, Brian White, and the now returning Deiber Caicedo, they will look to end that attacking drought on Saturday against Minnesota. However, they will have to do so without their DP striker Sergio Cordova, who is out with a hamstring injury and will continue to be out for six to eight weeks.
✅ 100th MLS appearance
✅ Team-high 7 clearances
✅ 2 interceptions
✅ 3 successful duels
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 20, 2023
Minnesota United FC Recent Run of Form (2-1-0)
Minnesota is in some stellar form, especially after having perhaps one of the most damaging pre-seasons after their star player Emanuel Reynoso went MIA and never reported for training. With many counting them out of the playoff race due to their intense reliance on Reynoso last season, they have shown up with two wins and a draw under their belt. In their two away matches, they have won both by a one-goal margin and with an average of 38.5% possession.
Head Coach Adrian Heath has to get a lot of credit as he has turned this team around, making them into lethal finishers of counterattacks and set-pieces. Players who have really stepped up are the midfielders Kervin Arriaga and Franco Fragapane, as well as defenders Miguel Tapias and Michael Boxall.
This weekend will now really test Heath as he has to make do without seven of his starting players, including Arriaga, Boxall, goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, midfielder Joseph Rosales, DP attacking midfielder Robin Lod, winger Bongokuhle Hlongwane, and experienced fullback Kemar Lawrence, who are all on international duty.
— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) March 19, 2023
The Whitecaps boast a poor record away from home to Minnesota, having never won at Allianz Field. They have previously drawn twice, and lost three times, with the most recent loss being the heartbreaking 2-0 loss to Minnesota on Decision Day.
That loss meant the Whitecaps had just missed out on the playoffs, after putting themselves in contention with a late three-game run; as a result, the ‘Caps will look to seek revenge on Saturday. It was the second loss of the season to Minnesota, with the Whitecaps losing the reverse fixture 3-1 earlier in the year. The last time the Whitecaps beat Minnesota was back in October of 2021, winning 2-1 at home with goals from Brian White and an own-goal from Micheal Boxall.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) October 9, 2022
Under normal circumstances, the Whitecaps would be hard-pressed to come away with any points to Minnesota, especially given their poor history at Allianz Field. However, the Whitecaps do have the advantage of facing a much-rotated and significantly weaker Minnesota United FC. With the soccer gods on their side due to this fortuitous timing, the Whitecaps will be raring to take advantage of the situation and recording not only their first victory in Minnesota but their first victory in 2023 in MLS.
However, you can never underestimate a side, especially one that has already shown that they can manage without star players, so the Whitecaps will be lucky to come away with a 2-1 victory on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports on October 9, 2022, of Pedro Vite and Joseph Rosales Headshot.