VANCOUVER – Despite a valiant comeback attempt, the road woes continue for Minnesota United.
Falling 4-2 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night at BC Place through goals from Yordy Reyna, Kei Kamara and a double from Alphonso Davies, head coach Adrian Heath’s side dropped to 9-12-1.
Davies, a 17-year-old Canadian international, ultimately proved to be United’s undoing. Fresh off word that German giant Bayern Munich has bought him for a fee that could rise as high as $20 million — a Major League Soccer transfer record — he found another gear in the second half, tormenting United’s defenders and finishing the match with two goals and two assists.
Reyna scored the opening goal in the 35th minute, going past at least four United defenders, including Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo and Eric Miller, before slotting a low shot into the bottom left corner, just beyond goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth’s reach.
Davies then doubled the lead for the home side in the 56th minute, walking through the United backline with a clever bit of footwork before beating Shuttleworth from close range.
Kamara added to Minnesota’s misery in the 64th minute, finishing off a two-on-one opportunity after Davies set him up from close range.
But then United put the fear into Vancouver in the late stages. The visitors claimed an 82nd-minute own goal from a corner kick, before substitute Abu Danladi made it 3-2 with a close-range effort in the 87th minute.
But Davies put that comeback bid to bed two minutes later, juking past Collin Martin and hammering an effort past Shuttleworth for the match’s final goal.
“The kid Davies has had a great night and looked what he is,” Heath said. “He’s a special talent, the kid. But when you look at the first goal, people diving in, not staying on their feet, and then a couple of individual stuff from him.
“But in between the goals, and I know this sounds silly, I thought we were actually the better team, the better footballing team. But we got beat 4-2.”
The result ended United’s three-game winning streak, its longest since joining MLS. All three wins were at TCF Bank Stadium.
Despite the score, the result could have gone a very different way had United been less wasteful in front of goal.
Designated player Darwin Quintero was predictably involved throughout the match, generating his side’s best chances. The diminutive forward had his first real opportunity in the 24th minute, getting on the end of a driven cross from Ibson from the right wing, but his header went just wide to the left of target.
The Colombian once again missed just wide to the left in the 45th minute with a surging run. He popped up again late in first half-stoppage time and found himself one on one with Jake Nerwinski, the last man back for Vancouver — and only a lunging tackle prevented Quintero from breaking in alone on goal.
Then in the 68th minute, Quintero fired narrowly over the bar on a play on which it looked easier to score than to miss the target.
“Obviously on the road, it’s one of the oldest sayings in football, you have to score when you’re on top, when you’re having your moments on the road,” Heath said. “We keep making the same mistakes, and I’m sorry, but we can’t keep doing it.”
United now returns to home to host the Seattle Sounders next weekend at TCF Bank Stadium before playing five consecutive matches on the road.
If the club is to remain in the playoff hunt, it will need to drastically turn its away fortunes around. United maintains its status as the worst-performing road MLS team with a record of 1-9-0.