What Started as a Dream, Ending in a Nightmare.
The Vancouver Whitecaps took an unusual route, but in the end, their matchup against San Jose Earthquake ended the way we had predicted: a loss.
On Saturday evening, the Vancouver Whitecaps began an important week in their club’s history. Starting in San Jose, the club will then travel to Monterrey Mexico, to take on the Liga MX side Tigres UANL, in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final. The week will conclude with a home match against Canadian rival Toronto FC.
With 3 matches this week, there were questions surrounding what type of lineup would Carl Robinson field against, arguably, the easiest of the three opponents. As expected, Robinson did not go with his best Starting XI, choosing to sit Davies, Shea, Laba, and Parker. In fact, none of those four even made the 18. Instead, we saw an all-Canadian defensive midfield, with Ben McKendry getting his first MLS start, and Christian Dean getting a second straight start at center back.
Although hopes were not high, the Whitecaps got off to a dream start, thanks to the hustle of Erik Hurtado, who pressed the Earthquakes defense into a mistake 1:30 into the match. Returning to his old stomping grounds (Hurtado used to play at Santa Clara University), E-Money quickly made it 2-0 in the 16th minute, when he fought off an Earthquakes defender before sliding a pass across to Nicolas Mezquida who slotted it past the outstretched hands of David Bingham.
The exciting opening to this match was not done though, as David Ousted was forced into a footrace outside his 18 yard box that resulted in a red card in the 23rd minute. It was a tough break, but was certainly what turned this potential fairy tale into a Brothers Grimm.
The Earthquake quickly pounced as Chris Wondolowski slotted home the ball in the 32nd minute, after heavy pressure from the Quakes. While it may not have mattered, a contributing factor to the goal was certainly the sting of 4 Whitecaps (including Tornaghi) standing on the goal line instead of coming out to pressure the Quakes attackers.
Paolo Tornaghi got lucky in the 35th minute, after he spilled the ball in front of him, and Wondo jumped on the rebound…but in an offside position. Despite being dominated in the first half, the Whitecaps went into the break still leading by 1.
The Whitecaps did not last long though as the Earthquakes tied in up in the 54th minute, after some very lovely passing. Also taking a pass on the play was Kekuta Manneh, who seemed to decide he just wanted to watch the play rather than take part in defending.
Despite being down to 10 men since the 23rd minute, the Whitecaps still had a chance to really upset the San Jose fans (they were already pretty miffed). In the 61st minute, Carl double-substituted Christian Bolanos (for Manneh) and Fredy Montero (for Hurtado) and there was hope that a miracle ending could occur. It was for not though, as Anibal Godoy shot a laser into the back of the net in the 79th minute, to complete the San Jose comeback.
It is hard to read this match. The outcome was what many expected prior, but after that first 20 minutes, fans had to be feeling optimistic. In the end, the Earthquakes had two (Wondolowski) goals ruled offside and Jordan Harvey escaped a potential handball in the box midway through the 2nd half, which could have resulted in a far more lopsided San Jose victory.
The takeaways from this one were that Christian Bolanos played his first minutes of the season, Mezquida looked good in the short amount of time he played (was substituted off when Ousted was red carded), and Erik Hurtado ACTUALLY scored.
What were your thoughts on the match? Any positive or negative takeaways?