Caps crash after costly gaff - The Province

Thunder 1 Whitecaps 0. Sole goal scored on a penalty kick

Marc Weber

It was a long night for the Vancouver Whitecaps and their 4,989 fans at Swangard Stadium.

The long ball was in full effect, but not effective.

There were enough shots, but an equal amount of longing as the end result.

There were long groans after the Minnesota Thunder (1-1-0) capitalized on a penalty kick in minute 68 -- the game's only goal.

And now there's a long time to think about all of it, as the Whitecaps (1-1-0) have another fortnight break before their next match.

"It was a little bit frustrating," said head coach Teitur Thordarson, whose squad was trying to build on an impressive 1-0 season-opening win over Montreal.

"After half an hour, I felt we were struggling to use the flags as we wanted and that was clearly seen also in the second half.

"Even though we were not playing very well, we had some very good chances but we didn't manage to score."

Minnesota was awarded the decisive penalty kick after Takashi Hirano turned the ball over then pulled down Luchi Gonzalez. The Japanese defender was Vancouver's best player outside of that gaffe, but it was a costly one.

Ricardo Sanchez stepped up to the spot for the Thunder and beat Srdjan Djekanovic to the keeper's left.

For Minnesota, who played Thursday night in Portland, it was a case of new look, new result.

Under new ownership, with a fresh logo and almost an entirely overhauled lineup, they won for the first time at Swangard since 1997, having gone 1-13-2 since then.

Vancouver did press well for the equalizer, but couldn't muster a decent shot on goal. Forward Jason Jordan, one of four late substitutions, had his 15-yard strike blocked by a defender shortly after the penalty kick. In time added on, Jordan headed Hirano's well-placed cross just over the bar.

Captain Adrian Cann said it came down to energy and effort. Too little, too late.

"The intensity wasn't there from the start," said the defender. "I thought we took the game too lightly. There's no excuse. We should be playing harder."

Of the two-week break in the schedule, which likely had something to do with the Whitecaps disorder, he said bluntly: "We can't use that as an excuse."

Much of the first half appeared to be nothing more than a feeling out process.

Outside of a 10-minute spurt for the home side, it was essentially an insomnia remedy.

Eddy Sebrango missed a header from 10 yards out, and the only shot on goal for either side was Sanchez's floater from distance.

Shots in the second half were 7-0 for Vancouver with Minnesota keeper Nick Platter credited with four saves.

But a miss was the best chance, as midfielder Vicente Arze skidded a hard drive inches past the far post after a nice buildup just two minutes before Hirano's slip-up.

mweber@png.canwest.com

© The Vancouver Province 2008