Over the course of the Vancouver Whitecaps' brief MLS history, home games against the San Jose Earthquakes have generally been times of celebration. Late winners, offensive outbursts, and a hilarious throwback 70s night have all featured prominently at BC Place. In fact, the Caps have never lost a home match against their Californian opponents (knock on wood... knock very hard on wood).
Despite all the positive press, the only match between these two teams in 2015 ended with a Whitecaps loss and a suspended Pedro Morales. For those of you that haven't repressed the game entirely from memory, you'll know that the 1-0 result at Avaya Stadium was arguably the Caps worst performance of the year. It was the end of a fantastic run of form and it put the dampers on Vancouver's explosive start to the season.
With the western conference currently looking tighter than a Pedro Morales calf muscle, extra importance is thrown into every inter-conference match up. But for the Whitecaps, this game also marks the beginning of an incredibly arduous run of games. August and its combination of the Canadian Championship, CONCACAF Champions League, and pivotal MLS matchups wlll undoubtedly push Whitecaps FC to the brink.
Last week's game against Portland proved that the Whitecaps have depth, so there can't be any excuses come Sunday night. Pedro Morales, Pa Modou Kah, and Kendall Waston could all be available, which somewhat offsets the losses of Jordan Harvey and Cristian Techera to suspension. Howeverc Sam Adekugbe is still injured, so the left back position could be a soft spot. That puts the honess on Carl Robinson to get his defensive shuffle right.
Robbo hasn't had a problem getting his team prepared to play the big matches against Portland and LA, but it remains to be seen whether he can rev his team up enough to overcome teams lower in the standings. The thing is, they all count for the same number of points. A win against LA may feel good at the time, but a loss to Colorado or San Jose could matter more when it comes down the final few games of the season. It will be up to the Caps to prove that they know that getting all three points on Sunday is crucial.