ANALYSIS – The Vancouver Whitecaps came away from Minnesota on Saturday with a stunning last-minute equalizer, after trailing the game for the majority of the game. The crucial goal came off of Whitecaps youth product Simon Becher, who scored his first of the season to save the day. This was the biggest of the Whitecaps’ Three Takeaways. But with three crucial games coming up, Head Coach Vanni Sartini will be rueing what could have been a crucial first MLS win.
Three Takeaways Whitecaps: Becher Saves Sorry ‘Caps In Minnesota
#1: Simon Becher To The Rescue
With all of the attacking talent that the Whitecaps boast, including Brian White, Cristian Dajome, Pedro Vite, Ryan Gauld, and Deiber Caicedo, you would have had to look far back to be able to spot the young 23-year-old American Simon Becher on that list. Yet, it was his crucial contribution that allowed the Whitecaps to come away with a point from a tough match.
His introduction to the game opened the match up and injected the Whitecaps with some much-needed energy after a lackluster opening second half. Becher’s movement granted White to exploit more space, allowing him to shoot and look more dangerous than he had been all game.
As Vanni Sartini mentioned in the presser after the game, Becher is a poacher. His ability to find those spaces and get on the end of deliveries is what made Whitecaps sign him up on a pro contract in the first place. With an incredible scoring state of 6.4 goals per 90, Sartini might have to rely on the man who has been low on the pecking order, to come up with the big goals.
Here's the game-tying goal from Becher. He had the game-tying goal against Houston last year in the 88th minute (his only eight minutes of MLS play before tonight).
— J.J. Adams (@TheRealJJAdams) March 26, 2023
#2: Stuttering Whitecaps Attack Strikes Again
While Becher came away with the last laugh in Minnesota, his goal saved the skin of many of the Whitecaps players. None more than Brian White, who had an xG of 0.48 according to Fotmob. He struck the crossbar in the opening 45 seconds off an acrobatic attempt and arguably had the game’s best chances throughout the match. But while his hold-up and passing play has been excellent this season, he is still lacking that confidence in front of the net. With zero goals in 789 MLS minutes, the American striker is going through a rough patch.
Meanwhile, Ryan Gauld has been plagued by what looks like fatigue, having played all matches this season bar the return leg of the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. His performance was below his usual brilliant standard. And Cristian Dajome looked all out of sorts in this match, taking up awkward positions, making sloppy passes, and losing possession cheaply. With five games of the season in, it’s due time for some of these players to finally step up and contribute to the Whitecap’s struggling season.
Fact: Brian White is without a goal in 789 MLS minutes after tonight's blank vs Minnesota
With his excellent hold-up and passing play, you gotta feel for the guy. He's doing all the hard stuff, but just missing the whole putting-the-ball-into-the-back-of-the-net part. #VWFC
— Felipe Vallejo (@FelipeV_FC) March 26, 2023
#3: Vanni Sartini On Thin Ice?
Vanni Sartini has a lot of credit to his name, bringing home the Whitecaps’ first piece of silverware since 2015 last season in the 2022 Canadian Championship. But with another slow start to the season, Whitecap fans might be wondering how much more rope will Sartini have.
Last season’s terrible start was what eventually let them down in their playoff hunt, and many fans are worried that this slow start might be what costs them once again. With arguably the best roster the Whitecaps fans have had in years, it would be a waste to fail to reach the playoffs once again, so it will be interesting how much more time CEO Axel Schuster will give to Sartini, lest risk another failed season.
With a Canadian rivalry match against CF Montreal in the MLS next and a Cascadia rivalry match against Portland the following week sandwiching a crucial home-leg match against LAFC for the Concacaf Champions League, the next few games might be the make or break of Vanni Sartini’s future with the Whitecaps. Whitecaps fans will hope that, regardless of who is leading the team, the Whitecaps start churning out some better results, and fast.
Stole a point in Minny. pic.twitter.com/3p7ik9mJeo
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) March 26, 2023
Photo Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports on March 25, 2023.