The Caps continue their homestand Wednesday, playing host to the San Jose Earthquakes in a match that could serve as a midweeek morale boost ahead of a weekend trip to Texas.
The Earthquakes are coming off their second win of the season, a 3-1 toppling of Minnesota United that ended a three-match losing streak and their first victory since besting the Loons on opening day. For all the talk of fine lines in Vancouver, the lines have been even finer in San Jose, as the Quakes have lost all of their matches this season by one goal. And in case San Jose needs a little more motivation for this one, Vancover was of course the side which resoundingly knocked the Quakes out of the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs in dominating 5-0 fashion.
San Jose has relied this season on Dutch frontman Danny Hoesen, who leads the team with four goals, including two of the last three matches. But its noted Whitecaps killer Chris Wondolowski who the home side will have to keep an eye on, despite only two goals (including a penalty last match) so far this season. Wondo has tallied 11 goals in 18 games against the Caps, which MLS Stats notes is tied for the most goals a single player has against any team in that time frame.
New signings midfielder Vako Qazaishvili and Magnus Eriksson appear likely to start for San Jose, although center back Yeferson Quintana, also a newcomer, will be sidelined with a long term injury, as will Eric Calvillo. Eriksson has already made his mark, with a bevy of assists and his creative eye has really worked with midfielder Florian Jungworth to serve as the engine to the Earthquakes attack. Given that Vancouver has had to work to contain more create wingers like Eriksson (see: Quintero, Darwin and Vela, Carlos), this is one matchup to watch, especially given the lack of form that the Caps’ fullbacks have found themselves in.
For Vancouver, Manager Carl Robinson may opt for a rotated side ahead of the weekend, perhaps signaling the return of Jake Nerwinski, Efrain Juarez, Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera to the lineup. Brian Rowe will start in goal, as Stefan Marinovic is sidelined for upwards of six weeks with a knee sprain, and Jordon Mutch is similarly ruled out with his reoccuring hamstring issue.
Given that San Jose has not shown a lot of quality that leads many (including the hometown San Jose Mercury News) to wonder aloud if the Quakes are not up to playoff quality, this should be a match that Vancouver is targeting for three points if they want to continue to plump their own hopes as a contender. The Caps have had an odd habbit of nicking matches where they’ve rotated the squad in recent years and the fact that they will be in front of home fans at BC Place should be a boost. Vancouver will also hopefully be able to emulate a more enterprising home display last Friday against Houston into continued offensive production for the home fans. I see San Jose grabbing a goal early but Vancouver rallying with one or two in the second half to get a result, either 1-1 or 2-1.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. San Jose Earthquakes
May 16, 10:30 pm ET, 7:30 PM PT
Watch: TSN 1/5
Officials: Referee Armando Villarreal, Assistant Referees Logan Brown and Adam Garner, 4th Official Dave Gantar and VAR official Alex Chilowicz