Lucas Cavallini snaps his dry spell, but the Whitecaps remain winless on the season after Darwin Quintero leads the Houston Dynamo to victory.
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Darwin showed that the Vancouver Whitecaps still have some evolving to do.
Houston Dynamo midfielder Darwin Quintero scored a brace to rally the home side from an early deficit to a 2-1 victory over the Caps at PNC Stadium on Saturday afternoon in Texas.
The Whitecaps (0-2-1) are winless on the season, but on the bright side, they at least got their first goal — courtesy of striker Lucas Cavallini in the 14th minute.
The Dynamo (1-1-1) not only got their first goal of the season, they got two courtesy of Quintero, the 34-year-old the former Minnesota United star.
Here’s what we learned…
TOUGH SLEDDING AHEAD
Looking at the first four games of the season when the schedule was released, and it was realistic to think the Caps could start 0-4. Two games against the last two MLS Cup champs, an away game to a team where they’d only won once (Houston) and a trip to the Banc of California Stadium to face a resurgent LAFC and their former starting keeper, Max Crepeau.
The Dynamo date was the most likely chance to pick up three points, even if their only win in nine previous games in Houston came in March of 2018.
But even an 0-6 start wouldn’t be out of the question, with home games against Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers coming in the first two weeks of April.
Sunday, March 20
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. LAFC
7 pm, Banc of California Stadium. TV: TSN1. Radio: AM730
A tie with New York City was a “bonus” point, according to Vanni Sartini, but now the pressure is mounting for them to record some points before their Western Conference counterparts get too far ahead.
Three straight road games follow their home games against SKC and LAFC, but then it’s back to BC Place for three straight in May, and a Canadian Championship game against Valor.
CAVA GETS HIS GOAL
The drought is over. Cavallini has scored a goal for the Whitecaps.
July 4, 2021 was the last time he scored a goal — again, in Texas, but in a 2-2 tie with Dallas.
It had been 16 appearances for Vancouver between goals for El Tanque, who turned in Cristian Dajome’s pinpoint cross 14 minutes into Saturday’s game in Houston.
It came with Cavallini doing what he was brought in to do; play as a target, move off the ball, and stretch the back line. He’d been guilty of dropping far too deep in previous games, trying to get involved in the buildup far from goal instead of putting himself in a scoring position.
His performances with Canada were the blueprint for his success in international play, but it hadn’t translated into the MLS game plan.
On Saturday, Cavallini had a team-high five shots, the only two on target, and won a game-best 10 aerial duels.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Whitecaps were out-possessed 60-40 by the Dynamo, but unlike the one-side play against NYCFC in which they had just 30 per cent possession, managed to outshoot Houston 17-16 (2-4 on target).
Sartini had made a stern mention of how his team was overpowered the week before during training this week, and the Caps did respond by winning 53 duels to Houston’s 37, and 8-5 tackles advantage.
Déiber Caicedo, who didn’t come on until the 65th minute, had a team-best four key passes.
It wasn’t Veni, Vidi, Vice for Pedro Vite in his first career MLS start on Saturday. It was more like: he came, he saw, he got subbed off.
The Ecuadorean youngster, playing as a No. 10 beside Ryan Gauld in a 3-4-2-1 formation, started brightly for the Caps, and it was mystifying when he was subbed off just 24 minutes in.
The team later clarified that it was for a concussion protocol that Vite initiated himself, although he was clearly upset about being taken off.
Striker Brian White stayed back in Vancouver after training on Friday, while the team traveled to Houston. Last season’s leading scorer has played just 26 minutes this season as he’s been dogged by a variety of injuries. He also was limited in pre-season play as a precautionary measure.
Centreback Erik Godoy, a stabilizing and veteran presence on the back line, has yet to figure in any games this year. Houston’s second goal came when the Caps defenders blew the timing on an offside call, allowing Quintero to score untouched off a Baird pullback.
Caio Alexandre is another projected impact player who could have been used Saturday in central midfield, where Russell Teibert and Leo Owusu had their issues linking the buildup centrally.