Whitecaps shut out Minnesota to grab top spot in West

Yordy Reyna. (CP)

VANCOUVER — Yordy Reyna and Brek Shea each scored once and helped set up another as the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Minnesota United 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Erik Hurtado had the other goal for Vancouver (13-9-5), which moved into first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference with 44 points. The Portland Timbers also sit on 44 points, but the Whitecaps own the tiebreaker with one more win, and have played two fewer games.

Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted was forced to make just one stop for his sixth shutout of the season.

Minnesota (7-15-5), meanwhile, remains second last in the West in what has been a difficult year for the expansion club, a point up on the Colorado Rapids.

Playing their second of three matches in eight days, the Whitecaps — who made five changes to the team that beat Real Salt Lake 3-2 at B.C. Place Stadium last Saturday — grabbed the lead five minutes in.

Canadian international Marcel de Jong floated a ball from near half that dropped between two Minnesota defenders and right onto the boot of a hard-charging Reyna, who coolly tapped his fourth goal of the season, and second in as many games, beyond United ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

The Whitecaps, who host the Columbus Crew on Saturday and are now 7-2-2 over their last 11, then doubled the advantage in the 31st minute on one of the classic counter-attack goals they have become known for under head coach Carl Robinson.

After the visitors failed to connected on three straight corners, Ousted heaved the ball out to a breaking Reyna. As Minnesota tried to scramble back, the Peruvian fed a pass to Shea down the left, and he in turn fired a cross to the top of the six-yard box that Hurtado chested past Shuttleworth for the striker’s second.

Supporters behind the Minnesota net greeted Hurtado’s first goal at home in more than year with chants of "Rufio! Rufio!" — a reference to his hairstyle that resembles that of a character from the 1991 movie "Hook."

Despite the club’s poor overall record, Minnesota came in 2-2-1 over its last five following an 0-2-3 run. United, which now has to travel to Montreal to take on the Impact on Saturday, came back from a 2-0 deficit to tie Vancouver in June in the first-ever meeting between the clubs.

Hurtado had two cracks at his second of the night in the 57th minute before Reyna’s follow-up chance hit a United defender and stayed out.

Reyna was subbed off in the 63rd minute to a rousing ovation from the crowd of 17,368 in attendance, with Robinson perhaps trying to save his influential attacking midfielder for Saturday.

Bernie Ibini came on for Reyna and nearly got another for Vancouver in the 70th minute on a header off a corner that Shuttleworth got a palm to before the Minnesota ‘keeper also thwarted Shea seconds later.

But Shea wouldn’t be denied in the 88th minute when he headed a cross from substitute striker Fredy Montero past a helpless Shuttleworth for his fourth.

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