Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kenny Miller entered Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew wanting to get more scoring chances — and he did.
More important, Miller created — and scored — the one that mattered most. His goal in the 57th minute gave the Whitecaps a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew in MLS action Saturday.
“It’s always nice to get off the mark my second game as a striker,” he said. “So I’m delighted to personally get the goal. But more importantly, it’s another three points for the team.”
Vancouver remained unbeaten after two games in the young season. The Crew dropped to 1-1 after winning their season opener.
Daigo Kobayashi also scored for Vancouver while Jairo Arrieta replied for Columbus.
Miller excelled while wearing the captain’s armband in place of the injured Jay DeMerit, who is out six to eight months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. The 33-year-old Scottish international stole the ball from Columbus defender Glauber, rushed towards the goal and fired in a shot from just inside the 18-yard box to put Vancouver ahead 2-1.
The goal was Miller’s first of the season and only his third as a Whitecap. Since joining the team midway through last season, Miller has come under criticism for his lack of scoring. He said Friday he wanted to get more chances, and came on a couple of occasions in the first half before putting the ball in the back of the net.
The Whitecap said it was nice to earn some revenge on Glauber, who had pulled him back as he rushed to the net with the ball in the first half. Glauber received a yellow card for the infraction.
“I was cruising straight for the goal on that one,” said Miller.
Many other Whitecaps did likewise at other times as Vancouver controlled most of the play. Coach Martin Rennie said his club could have scored several more goals.
“I thought it was a very exciting game, probably one of the most exciting games since I’ve been here, probably one of the most exciting games that’s been at B.C. Place,” said Rennie.
“We definitely created more chances today in the game than I think we have in any game that I’ve been here. So that’s encouraging. We had that letdown for the (Columbus) goal, which was disappointing. But overall our play was very strong today.”
Rennie said Miller’s goal was well deserved, because he was chasing the ball down and running hard all day.
The Whitecaps were caught off-guard by Arrieta’s goal early in the second half. He created a 1-1 tie after the second half had barely begun, putting a shot in off Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon’s legs as the Whitecaps were slow to get back.
But the Whitecaps did not let the goal hamper their play, continuing to generate chances afterwards.
“Mentally, I think this team is a bit stronger,” said Cannon. “I think we’ll be a bit more mature than last year with the additions that we have. It was kind of a freak goal, from what I’m hearing.”
Cannon said the Whitecaps, who emphasize creating chances from the back, had to change their game plan with DeMerit out of the lineup. The goalkeeper praised Miller, saying the Scotsman seems to be more inspired now that he has had a full pre-season with the team and did not have to jump to the Whitecaps after playing a full season in his homeland.
“If he keeps going like this we’re going to have a pretty strong team,” said Cannon.
Kobayashi opened the scoring for Vancouver in the sixth minute as he took a pass from Darren Mattocks and fired a shot over leaping Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum from about 25 yards out.
“It was fantastic,” said Rennie. “As soon as he hit that, I thought it was in. I’ve never jumped quite so high for a while.”
“That was a very good shot from distance,” said Columbus coach Robert Warzycha. “From where I was sitting, probably, the goalkeeper misjudged a little bit of ball, and it ended in the net. But I was very sad, because the shot was very good. That is why people come to the stadium, to see shots like this.”
Columbus was credited with 15 shots, but only four were on target. Vancouver took eight on the game, but four were on net.
Warzycha said his team, which usually plays on grass, had difficulty playing on B.C. Place’s artificial turf.
“Vancouver, the local team, obviously adjusted to the surface a little quicker than us,” he said. “We made some mistakes down the road that probably cost us the game.”
Notes: Vancouver had a goal disallowed by an off-side call as Miller set up second-half substitute Erik Hurtado on a two-on-one. ... Columbus took three yellow cards, Vancouver did not receive any. ... Whitecaps midfielder Camilo saw his first action of the season as he subbed in for Mattocks in the second half. ... DeMerit spoke to reporters Saturday for the first time since suffering his injury a week earlier in a season-opening win over Toronto.