Vancouver Whitecaps’ Jon Erice (6) is tackled by Minnesota United’s Rasmus Schuller (20) during first half MLS soccer action in Vancouver on Saturday, March 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ben Nelms

New-look Whitecaps fall 3-2 to Minnesota in MLS season opener

Late charge comes up just short for Vancouver side

VANCOUVER — The new-look Vancouver Whitecaps fought hard but came up just short in their 2019 MLS season opener, dropping a 3-2 decision to Minnesota United on Saturday at B.C. Place.

Erik Godoy and Doneil Henry scored for the Whitecaps.

Darwin Quintero, Francisco Calvo and Romario Ibarra replied for Minnesota.

It was Marc Dos Santos’s first match as Vancouver’s head coach.

He has been tasked with bringing together a roster that includes new 14 off-season signings, including goaltender Maxime Crepeau.

Dos Santos, a native of Montreal, spent last season working as an assistant coach with LAFC.

On Saturday, Whitecaps defender Godoy ignited the sold-out crowd of 27,837 at B.C. Place early, using his right foot to tip a free kick by Jordy Reyna past Minnesota keeper Vito Mannone in the sixth minute. It was Vancouver’s only shot on target in the first half.

In the 32nd minute, Minnesota’s captain Calvo threatened when he hit the bar behind Crepeau with a left-footed shot. Quintero levelled the score in the 37th minute, connecting on a penalty kick after Jakob Nerwinzki fouled Calvo in the box. Quintero easily deposited his shot high to the corner of the net, over the outstretched Crepeau.

RELATED: Rainbow grilled cheese, hot-dog burger on the menu at BC Place

In the second half, Minnesota took its first lead in the 66th minute when when Calvo headed a cross from Quintero past Crepeau, quieting the crowd. Ibarra quickly added an insurance goal in the 70th minute to make it 3-1.

Henry pulled Vancouver back within one in the 81st minute when he converted a corner kick with a perfect header. Victor Giro and Hwang In-Beom drew the assists. Though they pressed as time wound down, the Whitecaps were not able to connect with an equalizing goal.

Vancouver and Minnesota split their two-match season series in 2018, with each club winning at home.

The Whitecaps now hit the road for two games, with matches against Real Salt Lake and the Houston Dynamo. Their next appearance at B.C. Place comes on March 30 against the Seattle Sounders.

NOTES: Ring of Honour member Carl Valentine was on hand to help kick off the season-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Whitecaps’ 1979 Soccer Bowl victory in the North American Soccer League.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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