ANALYSIS- The Vancouver Whitecaps recorded their second victory of the season in a 1-0 win over Portland at home thanks to a Brian White winner. The narrow margin flattered a rather flat Portland side, to the point where the Whitecaps could have easily matched the same score line of last Saturday vs CF Montreal.
Three Takeaways: Whitecaps Win in Dominant Performance
#1: Utter Control For Whitecaps
After a disappointing loss versus LAFC on Tuesday, many Whitecaps fans were wondering what kind of response the team was going to have in yesterday’s match. The response turned out to be one of complete domination, as Whitecaps controlled the match from the first whistle. The Whitecaps at one point had over 65% possession in the first half and ended the night with 58% possession overall. They outshot Portland by 13 shots to two, never allowing Portland to get one on target.
The key figures for this domination were Ryan Gauld, who Head Coach Vanni Sartini called his best performance of the season, Ali Ahmed, who was lively in the 82 minutes he was featured, and Julian Gressel, whose work rate was unrivaled this match. Gressel’s persistence that created the Brian White winner, chasing down a loose ball and driving it across goal twice after the first one was blocked. The triangles and quick passing between the midfield and the two 10’s made it difficult for Portland to cope, and they only lacked that finishing touch at times. Overall, it was perhaps Whitecaps most dominant performance this season in the MLS.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Regular Season @WhitecapsFC v @TimbersFC on April 08, 2023. #VWFC #VamosVancouver #RCTID #VANvPOR pic.twitter.com/xvDpbjzPSF
— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) April 9, 2023
#2 White Back On Track
Another positive from this match is that Brian White has scored in back to back games, after opening his MLS account against Montreal last week. He was on the bench for two-thirds of the game, coming on for Simon Becher in the 66-minute. The young American had a good first half, but became a little quiet in the second half. The inclusion of Brian White allowed for better passing in the final third, with White excelling in his hold-up play. His goal was well-deserved after putting in a good shift, something that Sartini made note of after the game. After being asked about White’s slow start, Sartini replied that “Brian hasn’t had a slow start. He just hasn’t scored. He’s been instrumental to the fact that the team was creating chances”.
“Brian did very well [today], and I’m very happy [for him].”
Hopefully White can pick up the slack with Sergio Cordova still out for a few weeks, and build that good partnership with Simon Becher to bring in more goals.
Brian White opens the scoring 💥
Assisted by Gressel 👏
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) April 9, 2023
#3 Cubas Concern?
The only downside from yesterday’s game was that Andres Cubas went down with an injury after a heavy challenge in the 29-minute. He went off with pain in his shoulder, and it was reported that he has a right shoulder contusion. He was repalced with Sebastian Berhalter, who put it an incredible effort and demonstrated that he is a worthy deputy for Cubas. But as good as Berhalter was in the rest of that match, there are few who can truly replace the grit, determination and tenacity of Cubas.
Arguably, Whitecaps’ best player so far this season has been Cubas, and to be without him for some time could prove to be costly for this rise in form. What might save the Whitecaps is that after the game against Austin next Saturday, MLS has a one week break. That might mean that Cubas won’t miss more than the Tuesday game against LAFC in the Scotiabank Champions League, and the away match in Austin for MLS. Many Whitecaps fans will be wishing that will be the extent of his absence.
Andrés Cubas was assessed by the medical staff at halftime and he has a right shoulder contusion. @WhitecapsFC | #VWFC
— Sarita Patel – 'Caps Club Reporter (@SaritaReports) April 9, 2023