Kenny Miller made sure the Vancouver Whitecaps didn’t have to worry about injuries in their defence on Saturday night.
The Scottish striker scored two highlight-reel goals, including the winner, as the Whitecaps beat the New England Revolution 4-3 in Major League Soccer action.
“I’m delighted with the goals — even more delighted we’ve got the three points,” said Miller.
Watch: Whitecaps 4, Revolution 3
The Whitecaps struggled with a depleted back line, but Miller’s performance enabled them to overcome a 2-0 deficit with four straight goals before New England rallied late.
Camilo, on a penalty kick generated by a Miller scoring opportunity, and Jordan Harvey had the other goals for the Whitecaps (5-5-4) as Vancouver remained unbeaten in seven home games.
“When you score an important goal, it’s always nice,” said Miller. “But the second one, obviously, was a little bit special.”
Miller gave Vancouver a 4-2 lead in the 68th minute after fielding a long Camilo cross and volleying the ball into the top right corner from about 20 yards out.
He helped the Whitecaps atone for a disappointing loss in Seattle a week earlier, when they squandered a 2-1 second-half lead. Vancouver had also squandered second-half leads in recent draws at home to Portland in league play and Montreal in the final of the Amway Canadian Championship.
“We’re happy with the three points,” said Miller. “It’s a big win.”
Juan Agudelo, Kelyn Rowe and second-half substitute Dimitry Imbongo replied for the Revolution (5-5-5), which saw their MLS unbeaten streak end at five games and overall undefeated run halted at six.
The Whitecaps trailed 2-0 by the 20-minute mark as New England took advantage of top central defender Andy O’Brien’s absence due to a hamstring injury. He was the latest casualty following other injuries to central defenders Jay DeMerit (Achilles tendon) and Brad Rusin (calf).
Agudelo and Rowe capitalized on mistakes by centre backs Carlyle Mitchell and Johnny Leveron, who were playing their first game together, and Harvey, who had only recently secured the left fullback spot after Alain Rochat’s trade to D.C. United.
New England was forced to play a man down after Scott Caldwell took down Miller from behind in the box as he tried to take a long lead pass from Russell Teibert and go in on goal. Caldwell received a straight red card for his infraction.
Camilo scored on the ensuing penalty kick to reduce Vancouver’s deficit to 2-1.
The goal ended New England’s shutout streak at four games. It was the first goal surrendered by New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in a club-record 420 minutes, dating to a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls on May 11.
“I was just getting ready to try to put the ball in the back of the net, and he just kind of clipped my heels or my calf,” said Miller.
Mitchell made up for his earlier miscue by setting up Miller for the hosts’ second goal. After taking his long lead pass, Miller lofted the ball over a defender, headed it down, controlled it with his thigh and booted it by Shuttleworth in the 39th minute.
Four minutes later, Harvey atoned for his defensive error by giving the Whitecaps a 3-2 lead by one-timing Teibert’s cross in off Shuttleworth’s hand.
The New England goalkeeper said his club did not respond properly after losing a man, but suggested the Whitecaps still had to work for their win.
“We kind of slowed the game down there and tried to get into half-time without conceding,” said Shuttleworth. “We weren’t able to do that. But the team responded well (later). We had our chances in the second half.”
After Miller increased the Whitecaps’ lead to 4-2, Imbongo pulled the Revolution within one on 84 minutes as Vancouver’s defence was victimized again.
Running between Leveron and Mitchell, Imbongo took a through ball from Darius Barnes and fired it past charging Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton. But Knighton preserved the win by punching former Whitecap Lee Nguyen’s free kick over the crossbar shortly before the final whistle.
“[The comeback] showed a lot of character,” said Miller. “Coming back to the lad getting sent off, it was a turning point in the game. But, still, we’ve gotta go and show the right mentality and the right approach go and make sure you get back into the game — and, fortunately for us, we’ve done that.”
Notes: Teibert’s assist extended his helper streak to a club-record three games. ... The Whitecaps beat New England for the first time in four all-time MLS contests. ... The game was the teams’ first and only meeting this season. ... Vancouver midfielder Gershon Koffie missed his fifth straight game with a thigh injury suffered in the Amway Canadian Championship final against Montreal.