For the first thirty minutes of the Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquake match at least, the Whitecaps looked utterly dominant. The Earthquake, playing on the road, looked like they were just barely hanging on by their fingertips. While the 'Caps did eventually fall back to Earth in a 3-2 victory, fans, and other teams around MLS won't forget just how good these guys showed they can be.
It all started just 10 minutes into the contest, when Kekuta Manneh was given enough time to get one short, and then another off to open the scoring. Manneh has come under some scrutiny lately, with many questioning whether or not he belongs in the starting lineup. For today at least, he was absolutely sensational, and no doubt has earned another look for the next match.
The Whitecaps continued to press, with the blazing speed of Mattocks and Manneh causing fits for their visitors from California. At 19', Mattocks danced into the box, but was taken down by 'Quakes defender Victor Bernandez and earned a penalty kick. It was a weak call to be sure, but the Whitecaps sure as hell didn't mind, with Pedro Morales stepping up and doubling their lead.
Just one minute later, Morales found himself with the ball just outside the box, and struck another nail into the Earthquakes coffin, sending the sell-out crowd at BC Place into a frenzy.
Of course, nothing gold can stay. After a brilliant performance to start the half, Darren Mattocks pulled up lame while chasing down a ball in the 'Quake zone. He clutched his left hamstring and immediately went down, replaced by Erik Hurtado. It truly was a shame given how good he has been this year, and of course the Whitecaps have to hope he's not out long term.
The Earthquake struggled to recover after allowing the early goals, but were given new life near the end of the half, when Alan Gordon earned his side a PK after he and Jay Demerit played the ball in the air, in the box. While Demerit appeared to win the header, he was jumping over Gordon's back, another weak call.
Nontheless, Chris Wondolowski took the kick, scoring his fourth goal of the season.
That would be it for the first 45, easily the best half of soccer the Whitecaps have played all season long. They were aggressive on the ball, forcing 'Quake defenders into hurried passes that could be picked off. They were creative offensively and were capable of beautiful build-up attacks, but were also shooting the ball from everywhere, keeping the backline off guard. Besides the goal against, it really was a thing of beauty. They outshot their visitors by a total of 13-3 in the half, including 7 to 2 on goal.
The second half didn't produce any more goals, as both sides settled down. After a horrendous 45 minutes, the 'Quake looked much better and were able to get more involved in the contest. However, they couldn't mount any type of a comeback until the dying moments of the match, and the Whitecaps were able to hold on for their first win in four matches. Chris Wondolowski did score his second of the match in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late.
Pedro Morales was named man of the match for his two-goal effort, and Whitecaps fans were given an absolute fireworks show on 40th anniversary night. One thing for sure, the Whitecaps definitely are better at playing soccer than dancing.
Lineup: Ousted, Beitashour, O'Brien, Demerit, Harvey, Koffie, Laba, Fernandez,(Mezquida 69') Morales, Manneh, (Miller 57') Mattocks (30' Hurtado)