By Ian Walker
There was Jason Jordan's header high over the crossbar in added time. There was Tony Donatelli's low blast on net in the final minutes of regulation. There was Vicente Arze's hard drive that ran across the face of the goal in the 63rd minute. And there was Eddy Sebrango's high header in the 54th minute.
But wait, that was only the second half.
There was also Sebrango's header in the 16th minute that went wide left and his shot over the crossbar from in tight 10 minutes earlier.
No doubt, the Vancouver Whitecaps created some chances in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Thunder at Swangard Stadium. It was in the style and execution departments where the Whitecaps came up short. Like old wharfs and aging picnic tables, the Vancouver players looked weathered and lacked finish from the opening kick.
"Tonight was a big disappointment as we did not play well," said Sebrango, following the game, played in front of 4,989 fans on a tranquil spring evening. "Our performance was flat. If we were five or 10 per cent better, I think we would have won the game."
The loss comes with a heavy price for the Whitecaps. A 1-1 record in the United Soccer Leagues First Division with two weeks before its next game. That's a lot of time to stew over an opportunity missed. Minnesota (1-1) was playing on just two days' rest after opening its season with a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Thursday.
"It was a little frustrating, we had some good chances early in the first half and didn't manage to score on those," said head coach Teitur Thordarson, whose team had two weeks to prepare for the match after its season-opening 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact on April 12.
"Even though we were not playing well, we had some very good chances, but we didn't manage to score. It's a little unfortunate. You start counting chances and it's obvious which team created the chances. I'm not unhappy with that."
Ricardo Sanchez scored on a penalty shot after 68 minutes iafter Caps defender Takashi Hirano coughed up the ball and was forced to pull down Minnesota striker Luchi Gonzalez in the Vancouver box.
The goal was one of just five balls directed on the Whitecaps' net all night. The Whitecaps were credited with nine shots on net.
Outside the aforementioned, the game was rather uneventful and at times sloppy. The two weeks between games clearly did not work in Vancouver's favour.
"We did not look as we did in the Montreal game, but the league schedule is set as it is, and we have to accept that," said Thordarson, who started an indentical lineup as he did in the Montreal win. "I'm not looking for any excuses, as we had our chances to win the game, but didn't take them."
Vancouver hopes history doesn't repeat itself, with another extended break in advance of the Rochester Rhinos, which visits May 10.
"We've got to keep our minds focused, as we are going to have back-to-back games, as well as other breaks in the season to deal with," said Caps defender and captain Adrian Cann. "What we need to do is keep on the same page and stick to our game plan, which comes from the structure we've had during training sessions and follow through with that."
The win was Minnesota's first at Swangard since 1997.
GOAL DUST: Whitecaps defenders Stefan Leslie (shoulder) and Luca Bellisomo (neck) did not dress due to injury
© The Vancouver Sun 2008