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Vancouver aims to turn attacking play in to consistent goals

VANCOUVER — After a lacklustre first half in their game against York United, the Vancouver Whitecaps are aiming to turn their attacking play in to consistency.
Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini gives directions while standing on the sideline during the second half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal soccer match against Los Angeles FC, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — After a lacklustre first half in their game against York United, the Vancouver Whitecaps are aiming to turn their attacking play in to consistency.

The Whitecaps face off against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, having won the first meeting of the season 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Brian White.

Emotions ran high in the first meeting in April with head coach Vanni Sartini getting booked for his objections to refereeing decisions.

Portland failed to test goalkeeper Yohei Takaoka in that match, while Vancouver had two disallowed goals before White scored the winner.

Vancouver is unbeaten in eight games in Major League Soccer regular season play and survived a late scare from Minnesota United to run out a 3-2 win.

White left last week's match against Minnesota with what the club has listed as a "contusion" to his thigh and it is uncertain if he will make an appearance.

White leads Vancouver with four goals in the last 10 games, while Simon Becher has four goals and one assist in his appearances this season.

"I think for me it's about trying to finding the high percentage play. If I think I can get a shot off and trust my instincts and the right play is to finish it, that's what I'll do," said Becher when asked about his work as a striker. "My job is create goals and score goals."

Becher scored the game-winner with his first touch of the ball as a substitute against Minnesota last week.

The Whitecaps opened their defence of the Canadian Championship cup with a 4-1 win over York United on Wednesday.

But all five goals were scored in the second half, with Sartini critical of his team's first-half performance.

"In the end, I think we won comfortably," he said. "I think the 4-1 (score line) is even too much against them. Probably a two-goal lead would be the right, I would say, distance for the game"

Vancouver outshot York 12-2 in the first half but only put two of those on target, compared to one for York.

"I think we, maybe, we were a little slow in the first half but I think we adjusted really, really well," said Becher.

Sartini faced questions about fielding a strong lineup amid a string of games in a short period of time.

"This is a competition that is very important," he said. "You need to play the best team possible."

After Saturday's tilt against Portland, the Whitecaps have five games before the end of the month. The fixtures include a match against Canadian Premier League team Pacific FC in the Voyageurs Cup.


RIVALRY: With a win on Saturday, Vancouver will widen their lead at the top of the Cascadia Cup standings and extend their MLS unbeaten streak to nine matches.

UNBEATEN STREAK: With last weekend's win against Minnesota United FC, the 'Caps extended their MLS unbeaten streak to eight matches, which is tied for the longest such streak in the league with Eastern Conference side New England Revolution. In addition, the 'Caps have tallied 11 points in their last five matches, which is also tied for the most in the league with New England. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

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