In the biggest match of the season, the Whitecaps were firing on all cylinders and put a poor San Jose Earthquakes side to the sword 5-0. Before we move on to thinking about Seattle, let’s take a look at how Vancouver graded out in their dominant performance.
Stefan Marinovic: A-
Rose to the occasion to deny Anibal Godoy on a free kick inside five minutes, getting Marinovic back into the good graces of Caps fans after a rough match on Sunday. Came up big again early on in the second half to tip away a Chris Wondolowski shot from close range. Didn’t have many other tricky saves but handled everything with aplomb and totally justified Robbo’s decision to start the Kiwi over David Ousted.
Marcel de Jong: A
Looked good flying down the left flank in the first half and had a couple tricky crosses for Andrew Tarbell and the Quakes D to deal with. Also put Jahmir Hyka in the spin cycle with a nice move (a good metaphor for the match in my opinion). Turned in a nice defensive performance as well, helping to deal with some dangerous San Jose attacks as the Caps were trying to find their footing early. In sum, De Jong, along with Nerwinski, were absolutely dominant.
Tim Parker: B+
In this CB pairing, Waston is often the flashier of the two defenders, venturing forward, making daring tackles and nabbing a goal here and there. Parker, however, was no less vital to it’s success on Wednesday, looking cool and collected while the Big Man did his thing. Nearly got caught ball watching on at least one occasion but, given how the Quakes’ chances were few and far between, he should be given kudos as well.
Kendall Waston: A
Put in a true captain’s performance on Wednesday, showing leadership during a shaky start and coming up with a few key tackles early on. Did well to tee up Montero’s first half goal and then got one of his own in the second half, finding himself in the right place at the right time to tap in after a mad scramble in front of the goal mouth. A well deserved moment for the Big Man and, judging by his celebration, one that he fully enjoyed.
Jake Nerwinski: A
The rookie looked calm and composed in his first playoff appearance. Was assured in defense, including a smooth clearance of a dangerous San Jose cross late in the first half. Great in possession and I can’t recall a single turnover he had. Dominated the right side for Vancouver and showed a national audience the skills that should put him on the Rookie of the Year shortlist.
Aly Ghazal: B
Stout in midfield, though he continued a trend of finding himself out of position at times. He made some truly impressive tackles to make up for those instances, however. Continues to remind me of Matias Laba and Ghazal helped ensure that the Argentine wasn’t missed in this match. He will continue to play a vital role against Seattle and will need to bring his defensive A-game.
Tony Tchani: C+
Was flaky during the first half, stringing together a nice bit of play on the lead-up to the corner which forced Montero’s goal but also having a couple poor turnovers. Looked better in the second half (as did the whole squad) before being replaced by Andrew Jacobson in the second half. I can’t say I will ever feel totally comfortable when Tchani is in possession but, from a defensive perspective, he did his job.
Christian Bolanos: A-
Like Techera and Reyna, Bola needed some time to get comfortable . Cranked things up a notch late in the first half, however, and continued that momentum into the second. Smart pass to set up Nico’s goal and a nice way to cap off a second half in which he was everywhere. Took on defenders and even forced a turnover or two en route to one of his most complete showings in a while.
Cristian Techera: A-
They’ll be talking about The Bug’s free goal in Vancouver for ages, as his superlative free kick was absolutely unstoppable and one of the best of the season. Before that, it took awhile for Techera to settle into the match but he came into his own later in the first half. Also worked hard on the buildup to the corner which resulted in the first half goal. Spelled by Brek Shea in the 74th minute.
Yordy Reyna: A-
Creative and hard working before making way for Nicolas Mezquida in the 67th minute, Reyna was instrumental even as he didn’t directly set up any of the 3 goals. Fouled to set up the Techera golazo and was key in paving the way for Waston’s tap-in minutes later, Reyna may not get credit on the score sheet but, make not mistake, his creativity was a force all match long.
Fredy Montero: B+
Broke his duck on playoff goals in lovely fashion, with a great diving header in the 32nd minute in the Caps’ seemingly thousandth set piece goal this season. Was actually fairly quiet for much of the rest of the match but he was typically strong in possession. While the Caps’ poured on the goals late in the match, don’t forget Montero’s tally as being critical, as it gave them key momentum at the end of the first 45.
Nicolas Mezquida: A
Must have donned his invisibility cloak when he replaced Reyna because San Jose seemed to be unwilling to mark him effectively, leading to a brace for Nico. Had a few good passing sequences but found himself perfectly situated to grab the Whitecaps’ fourth goal of the match. Made an even better run moments later to grab a second goal, complete with a clever finish to beat Tarbell. Proved his worth as a super sub and made a compelling case for further looks in the next round.
Brek Shea: A-
Nice cross to set up Nico’s second goal and it wasn’t the first time he was able to use his pace to great effect on the left hand side. Hard to tell if it was San Jose’s capitulation but Shea opened up a tired and incompetent Earthquake defense and was confident and aggressive in his runs.
Andrew Jacobson: N/A
The human victory cigar replaced Tchani late in the match and didn’t do enough to earn a ranking.