The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a point in a 2-2 draw with Minnesota United on Saturday, thanks to a key Cristian Dajome brace. Here is our match report from that one.
After a bright start, a poor reaction quickly put them in a bit of trouble.
But then, as he often has this year, Cristian Dajome stepped up big for the Vancouver Whitecaps just at the right moment.
Thanks to his 93rd-minute equalizer from the penalty spot, the ‘Caps were able to rescue a key point versus Minnesota United on Saturday, giving them a 2-2 draw.
After Dajome had scored the opening goal for the ‘Caps in the 1st half, Minnesota came back furiously in the 2nd, picking up 2 goals to go up 2-1 heading into added time, with both of their tallies mostly coming off of ‘Caps mistakes.
From there, though, Dajome did well to win and then convert a penalty, helping his team pick up a point in their last ‘home’ game at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah, where they’ve spent much of the last 5 months due to the pandemic.
“It was annoying,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said of the game. “In games like that, chippy and not good, and we gave the ball away for their 2nd goal, to react and fight like that is positive.”
But with the team finally back in Vancouver to train again, as they get set to officially play their first game back at BC Place on August 21st, things are looking up for these ‘Caps, who also officially signed DP #10 Ryan Gauld to a 3-year DP contract earlier on Saturday, filling a key area of need for this team.
So although wins have been hard to come by as of late, with just 1 in their last 12 games, things are finally starting to come together here for the ‘Caps, as they look to catch some fire nearing the midpoint of this MLS campaign.
“We’ve got to find solutions,” Dos Santos said. “We lack certain characteristics, we need to find more ways to create, and that’s not always easy.”
To return to the match, though, both teams appeared to be quite evenly matched right from the beginning, despite an 8-point gap between the two in the standings.
Minnesota would find the first chance of the game in the 1st minute, as Robin Lod had a nice look at goal off of a nice header, but the ‘Caps Thomas Hasal was up to the task in net, catching the shot quite comfortably.
Afterwards, the ‘Caps would start to grow into the game, and got the better of the Loons for the next 20 minutes, looking quite good while doing so.
First, Janio Bikel curled a shot just wide from inside the box after a nice Jake Nerwinski cross in the 15th minute, before Russell Teibert sent a wayward strike just over from outside of the box in the 22nd minute.
Then, Minnesota found a chance of their own, as Brent Kallman did well to rise highest to a 23rd-minute corner, but his shot also went wide, keeping the game tied.
But from there, the ‘Caps then soon managed to draw first blood, giving them a rare first-half lead.
After some nice interplay through the middle, initiated by a fantastic Michael Baldisimo progressive pass, Russell Teibert managed to find Cristian Dajome in behind the Minnesota defence for a breakaway, and the ‘Caps leading goalscorer made no mistake with his chance, sliding home a left-footed shot for his 7th of the season.
For the ‘Caps, not only was it an important lead, but it was a deserved one, as they were arguably the better team for much of that half, so it was nice to see them pick up a just reward.
But as the ‘Caps tend to like to do to themselves, they then managed to shoot themselves in the foot not long after, right at the worst time to do so.
In the 1st minute of added time to close out the first half, they failed to close down Minnesota’s Emanuel Reynoso in transition, and he made them pay for it, playing in Ethan Finlay with a lovely through ball, and from there Minnesota’s veteran winger did well to finish into the low corner with his left foot.
So although it was a pretty good half for the ‘Caps, they still found themselves knotted up heading into the 2nd, which was a bit disappointing considering how well they were playing.
But despite all of that positive play, they just didn’t find a way to get the chances to show for it, and Minnesota made them pay, showing why they’re a good team.
Because of that, it was interesting to see how the ‘Caps would try to adjust in the second half, as they looked to claw the game back in their favour, trying to pick up a valuable 3 points in the process.
Buoyed by that late goal, however, the start of the 2nd half would then be all Minnesota, as they looked to build off of what they showed right at the death in the first stanza.
Finlay first came close in the 54th minute, but he sliced his shot just wide, before Reynoso had a goal of his own in the 60th minute, but his low strike would go right at Hasal. Soon after, second-half sub Adrien Hunou had a go of his own in the 62nd minute, but he too sent his shot over, as Minnesota continued to struggle to convert their good looks at goal.
Afterwards, Minnesota continued to push, and came closest in the 68th minute, as Reynoso continued his strong match by finding Hunou off of a nice set-piece delivery, but Minnesota’s #23 guided his header into the post and out, much to the relief of the ‘Caps.
And that relentless pressure would pay off in the 75th minute, as Robin Lod finally found their 2nd goal in the 75th minute. After a poor turnover in the middle of the park by Janio Bikel, Lod did well to isolate ‘Caps centre back Erik Godoy in a 1v1, before cutting in and scoring with his left foot to give his team the lead.
For the ‘Caps, it was a backbreaker, especially after their strong start. Minnesota was full value for their lead, no doubt, but it was tough to see the ‘Caps allow them back into the game after that strong start, throwing away what looked like a winnable match.
But after that, realizing the scope of what lay ahead of them, the ‘Caps finally started to attack again, finding some good chances, with their first good opportunity coming in the 82nd minute, when second-half substitute Javain Brown managed to test Tyler Miller in the Minnesota goal with a good volley.
Spurred on by that, the ‘Caps then found an equalizer right at the 93rd minute, and it was Dajome once again, who continued his strong 2021 campaign. After a nice run into the box, he managed to win a penalty after he was fouled by Finlay, giving his team a spot-kick.
From there, as the designated spot-kick taker, Dajome then stepped up and coolly slotted home for his 8th of the season, and his 3rd penalty, rescuing a point for the ‘Caps.
So overall, it was a decent game for the ‘Caps, all things considered. They started brightly, and finished strong, but that 30-minute lull in the second half just can’t happen if they want to win games, especially against good teams.
“It was a very chippy game in that 2nd half,” Dos Santos said. “Very uncomfortable game.”
But with the team finally returning home, plus the return of some missing players, along with the arrival of some new ones, this team does appear to be close to a breakthrough soon.
Unfortunately for them, they just couldn’t find it on Saturday, but as in the last few matches, they showed flashes, of which they just need to stretch out over the course of a whole game.
Player of the Match: Cristian Dajome
Otherwise, today’s player of the match is an easy choice, as Dajome was a standout once again in this game, and his 2 goals were fair rewards for his play.
But what’s great about Dajome is that his play is so much more than his offence. Even without the goals, he was pressing all over the field, and had some good moments to help set up his teammate, showing his value as an all-around winger.
Because of that, it’s always nice to see him score, as it always feels like it’s deserved after all of his hard work, and that was most definitely the case once again on Saturday.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Cristian Dajome
And moving on, it was interesting to note that Dajome was actually also our player to watch in this game, as well, giving him a sweep of these two sections.
Heading into this game, he was in good form, with 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 7 games, so one could only wonder if he had any more offence in him, and as he quickly showed, the answer is resounding yes.
There’s a reason why there have even recently been claims that he could be considered to be an MLS all-star, as he’s been that good for the ‘Caps this season, and he proved that yet again on Saturday.
Heatmap of the Match:
Shifting over to the heatmaps, the ‘Caps had a mixed night in this section, and that’s reflected by what is shown in the data.
On one hand, they did well to keep Minnesota out of their box, but on the other hand, they didn’t get into theirs enough, making for a cagey game.
Ultimately, that would be reflected by the scoreline at the end of the night, and it shows why the ‘Caps were so eager to sign Gauld as a DP #10.
xG Plot of the Match:
Lastly, when looking at the Expected Goals (xG) plot from this game, it’s nice to see the ‘Caps actually come out in front in this section again, as they’ve managed to do in the last few games now.
Yes, they were obviously helped by the late penalty, but even before that they were ahead, so credit to them for that.
Against a Minnesota team that was miles ahead of them in all xG stats heading into this game, it’s a welcome surprise to see the ‘Caps win this battle, and hopefully it’s a sign of what’s to come from them going forward.
Now, the ‘Caps will return to Vancouver for a big week of training, before they get set to travel to Los Angeles to take on the Galaxy.
Having split the first 2 games between the teams so far this year, with each team picking up 1 win in a pair of games at Rio Tinto in a span of a month earlier this summer, both sides will be eager to find a way to win the season series in the last rematch.
Plus, the ‘Caps will have plenty of reinforcements before that match, as Gauld will start training with the team this week, and the team will also welcome back the likes of Caio Alexandre (suspension), Lucas Cavallini (international break/suspension) and Maxime Crepeau (international break), only adding to their squad.
So while this draw will certainly feel like points lost, especially considering that the ‘Caps could’ve leaped as high as 10th in the West with a win (they instead remained in 12th), good things lie ahead of this club.
With points in 6 of their last 7 games, they’ve been hard to beat, and although wins are hard to come by, with just 1 of those in their last 12 games, you just feel like they’ll find a way to turn that around sooner rather than later as they near the halfway point of this 2021 season here.
“I’m super happy to go back,” Dajome said via an interpreter after the game. “It’s going to help to have the fans behind us, it’s a plus for the team.”
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs LA Galaxy, Sunday, August 8th, 2021, 17:00 PDT, 20:00 EDT (Dignity Health Park, Carson)
Cover Photo via: Minnesota United/Twitter