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Vancouver Whitecaps Unable to Lock-up First in West

Thanks to a 77th minute goal from San Jose Earthquakes, the Vancouver Whitecaps were unable to secure first place in the Western Conference, in their final regular season home match.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps played host to the San Jose Earthquakes Sunday afternoon, in the club’s final home match of the season. It was an important match for both squads as a Caps win meant they would finish first in the West. Meanwhile, a Quakes win would greatly increase their chances of making the playoffs.

In such an important match, fans hoped that Carl Robinson would field his best Starting XI. Indeed Robbo did, electing to give Stefan Marinovic his first home start, and starting Marcel de Jong over left back incumbent Jordan Harvey. The rest of the lineup was as expected, with Brek Shea filling in for the suspended (red card) Christian Bolanos.

As has been their motto this season, the Caps sat back over the first 20 minutes absorbing the pressure from San Jose and then attempting to counter and capitalize off set pieces.

Despite San Jose controlling the start of the match, it was the Whitecaps who opened the scoring in the 29th minute, thanks to Yordy Reyna slotting home his sixth of the season. Given the history, we all knew at that point the Caps would shutout the Quakes, giving Reyna his sixth game-winning-goal of the season, and subsequently the Western Conference standings.

While Reyna finished the play, the build-up prior cannot be appreciated enough. It started with a heads-up quick throw-in from Fredy Montero to Aly Ghazal. Cristian Techera carried the ball forward, waited for the overlapping Jake Nerwinski to find space, and then delivered a fantastic ball which Nerwinski then drove across the six-yard box to a wide-open Reyna for his fifth assist of the season. We say this often, but Jake had another fantastic match at both ends of the pitch.

As seems to happen with the Caps, after scoring the opening goal they were more aggressive controlling more of the play (at least for their standards) until the halftime break.

The Whitecaps came out strong in the second half, as the Earthquakes had to press forward to try and score a tying goal.

Unfortunately, Reyna history was not in the favor of the Whitecaps. With the Caps unable to capitalize on their transition opportunities, the Earthquakes were able to find the equalizer in the 77th minute. Like the Caps first goal, it was thanks to a lovely back-heel pass from Wondolowski that led to the goal.

If not for a fantastic Marinovic save in the 79th minute, the Caps could have quickly found themselves down 2-1.

The Whitecaps had multiple opportunities in the final ten minutes of the match, but were unable to find the go-ahead goal. Although the draw left the Caps in first place, they now need to go to Portland and not lose to take first in the West. Should Seattle and Portland win on Decision Day next Sunday, and the Whitecaps would fall to 3rd.

Despite being in first, there still must be questions about the Whitecaps as they have not been able to defeat the top teams over the last few months (with the exception of Kansas City match).

What are your thoughts on the match today?