VANCOUVER – In the Vancouver Whitecaps' first match without captain Jay DeMerit, it was the man wearing his armband who made the difference.
Kenny Miller, who was filling in for the injured DeMerit as Whitecaps' skipper, fired home the winner to help Vancouver defeat the Columbus Crew 2-1 in front of 18,078 fans at BC Place on Saturday. The Scotsman dispossessed Glauber 57 minutes in after the Brazilian lingered on the ball following a pass from Andy Gruenebaum, and Miller proceeded to racing in on goal and firing a shot past the helpless Crew goalkeeper.
It didn’t take long for the Whitecaps (2-0) to get going in the game, as Daigo Kobayashi scored Vancouver’s opener and his first goal in MLS just six minutes in. Kobayashi caught Gruenebaum off his line and hit a lofted shot into the top left corner.
The Crew (1-1-0) equalized through Jairo Arrieta in the 46th minute. The Costa Rican forward sent Joe Cannon the wrong way by firing a shot into the bottom right corner after receiving a pass from Ben Speas, who made a suprise start in part because of Eddie Gaven being out for the match with an injury.
After Miller scored his first of the season, Columbus came close to levelling in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Speas hit a hard ball across goal that found Dominic Oduro, but his ensuing header was off the mark.
The ‘Caps dominated possession in the opening half, holding 57.8 percent of the ball and threatening on several occasions. Apart from Kobayashi’s goal, Vancouver had other chances that were generated in some part due to penetrating balls from Nigel Reo-Coker, who wasted an open look in front of goal.
In the 40th minute, Reo-Coker got on the end of a rebound from eight yards out after Gruenebaum stopped Miller from close range but the veteran fired high and wide of the target.
Vancouver also came close to doubling their lead at the end of the half, Brad Rusin got on the end of a Kobayashi corner, heading a ball against the post which rebounded off Gruenebaum’s face before hitting the post a second time and ultimately being cleared by Oduro.
The Crew had chances too. Five minutes into the game, Agustin Viana narrowly headed over goal after connecting with a Federico Higuain free kick.
Higuain was involved once again 10 minutes from halftime, as he curled a set-piece beyond all of his teammates, forcing Cannon to awkwardly knock the ball out to his left for a corner.
Columbus play next Saturday at Crew Stadium against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Whitecaps return to action on March 23, as they travel to Houston to play the Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.