Cava after win vs. Portland 2021
Photo Credit: Jon Hair / Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Four observations from an opening win

It was an opening day victory for Vancouver Whitecaps FC after a 1-0 result over Cascadia rivals Portland Timbers at their temporary home stadium in Sandy, Utah.

Here are four observations from the first match of the season

Watch out MLS, here comes the tank

Who else?

Lucas Cavallini is the main man up top for Whitecaps FC.

He had a barnburner of a preseason (for the second consecutive year).

He bagged a hat-trick for his country last month.

And with his family in the crowd, he scored the first goal of the season for the ‘Caps. In official competition, that makes five goals in his last four matches for club and country.

It won’t be his most difficult goal of the season, as he was left open at the back post on a terrific corner kick delivery from Cristián Gutiérrez. But Cava made darn sure it wasn’t going to get saved with a thunderous header into the back of the net.

“I want to push these guys, and I want them to push me,” Cavallini told club reporter Sarita Patel after the match. "We're here for a show this year."

Let’s not forget that El Tanque ended the 2020 season in a strong way, scoring four goals in his final six starts. If he can keep up this form all season, it will be a very long year for opposing MLS defenders.

D is for dangerous

In his first MLS season, Cristian Dájome showed glimpses of his attacking prowess with three goals and four assists. 2021 has the feel of an even bigger season, even if his goal was called back.

This season he is joined by a fellow Colombian in 21-year-old tricky winger Déiber Caicedo.

Both players flashed their abilities.

Dájo kicked things off with a dangerous delivery at the start of the match. Déiber also got on the ball, darting in and dribbling at speed.

"We looked always in moments that we could have been dangerous in some counter attack situations,” head coach Marc Dos Santos commented after the match.

With more time to develop chemistry with Cavallini and the rest of the squad after this dub, they could prove to be quite a dynamic duo.

Clean sheet

The ‘Caps were not without their scares from Portland, but the commitment was there throughout the 90 minutes to keep the Timbers off the scoreboard.

After three clean sheets in 23 matches in 2020, getting 2021 off on the right foot with a big fat zero in the opponent’s column is a huge positive for the Blue & White.

"Everyone worked through and pulled through to cover for each other when we were beat," said goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau, playing his first MLS match since fracturing his thumb in July last year. "We got to work together as a unit, 11 men were committed, and, again that's the real tough thing to beat a team when the 11 men are committed.”

Reinforcements are on the way

Three points is the most important stat from Sunday, but head coach Marc Dos Santos will be heartened by the performance of his team knowing that even more internal competition is on the way.

Fullback Bruno Gaspar underwent a light training session on the weekend, Caio Alexandre will have his first training session on Monday, and Ali Adnan is still awaiting a new U.S. visa to join the team while he trains in Vancouver.

The ‘Caps will also have 2021 MLS SuperDraft picks David Egbo and Javain Brown (visa/work permit) further integrated in the coming weeks.

That’s not to mention the injured players who would have factored in: centre backs Derek Cornelius and Érik Godoy, midfielder Leo Owusu, and forward Tosaint Ricketts.

An opening win will put a pep in everyone’s step with something to build on for the full squad.

"It's a problem that we want to have," said Dos Santos. "We want to have the problem of a lot of players available and a lot of players competing for a spot. That's what we want in this team and keep everybody ready when they're called to play. If you look at the schedule, especially the months of June, July, we're going to have a lot of games, and the games are going to come one after the other. We need everybody to be good, everybody to be ready, and it's a good sign what happened today."