Dale Carnegie says one should always open with a complement.
... The roof was open. That was nice.
The Whitecaps loss to San Jose was brutal in so many ways. In perhaps their worst home game of the season (dare I say their MLS existence?), the 'Caps showed to their home fans the impotence of their current attacking and defending form. It was a game they could have won and needed to win, but fell horribly flat leaving their fans frustrated and their season in jeopardy. With the loss they fall to eighth in the standings with only nine games to go, and they have played more games than many of the teams around them in the standings. Did I say they needed to win? This was San Jose's first win on the road this season, their first win at BC Place and Vancouver's best chance to earn some points.
The line-up was largely the same as last week in Colorado with the same back line of Parker, Edgar, Waston and De Jong. Laba and Morales lined up in the back of the midfield with Bolaños, Mezquida, and Barnes on the left wing, in the forward roles. Joining Mezquida as the other change from last week was Masato Kudo as the lone striker.
The opening ten minutes seemed hopeful as the ‘Caps showed more energy to start the game by closing down players and getting a couple forays forward, but it didn't take long to realize their efforts had no bite. The Quakes took possession of the ball, and the game, and kept it for most of the match. The ‘Caps were woefully bad at winning back the ball and when they did their long ball game consistently fell to the head and feet of the San Jose defense. Unsurprisingly, the chances all fell the way of San Jose. The ‘Caps first decent look on goal came to Kudo who lost his defender before he skied the ball over the net.
Controversy hit as Ousted caught Amarikwa's header off a corner and then backed it into the net. At first glance he kept the ball ahead of the goal line, but after the ball hit the turf it clearly rolled into the net. That second part they didn't show on the big screen in BC Place and sent 22,100 fans into an irate frenzy. Maybe it was a fluky goal, and it was certainly a bad moment for David Ousted, but what did Vancouver expect giving the Quakes so much possession and so many chances on net?
The second half began briefly with more hope. The ‘Caps came at the Quakes with early shots by Morales and Mezquida that showed some promise. They abandoned their long ball strategy for a short passing game that soon devolved into pass-pass-give the ball away. With an invitation like that the Quakes took back possession of the ball and the momentum of the game.
In the 60th minute, Simon Dawkins ran around Tim Parker in his second straight game in the RB position and put a ball across goal and into the side of the net. The game felt completely lost at that point. Robbo brought on his subs and shifted his formation to three at the back. Perez had the best chance with a header off the crossbar and the arrival of Aird introduced the first decent cross by a Whitecap that met the foot of Barnes in a volley that missed. Vancouver began to force David Bingham into some saves but they were still largely ineffectual, and too quick to turn the ball over.
In the final seconds of extra time Nicolas Mezquida scored a well-placed header off a redirected corner kick. But that goal redeemed nothing. This was a game that hurt the team's chances at a playoff spot and, quite frankly, a game that hurt to watch. Anyone hoping Vancouver's recent bad form was simply the result of a lot of travel and a couple difficult venues will need to think again. This is a team that is not playing well. They need to win a lot of games and they don't look able to do it.