The Vancouver Whitecaps played their first of two matches this week Wednesday evening, when they hosted San Jose Earthquakes. The Caps came out with an expected 4-4-2, with Jordy Reyna and Kei Kamara serving as the two strikers. Sean Franklin started for the fifth match in a row at right back, giving Jake Nerwinski the night off. It will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday, when the Whitecaps travel to Dallas.
Coming off a victory in Minnesota last weekend, the Earthquakes elected to go with a very defensive 5-4-1 lineup. This decision led to a boring start to the match, with both clubs sitting back waiting for the other to attack. With Reyna, Kamara, Alphonso Davies, and Cristian Techera as the attacking four for the Whitecaps, there was an opportunity for them to push forward, but it seems that will just never be in a Carl Robinson-led club’s nature.
Despite the early stalemate, the Whitecaps were able to get on the board in the 19th minute, thanks to Reyna slicing a ball through the Earthquakes defense to an oncoming Techera, who was able to slot it home. The Caps have certainly missed Reyna’s vision early in the season. Hopefully these past few games are a sign that he is returning to the form that made him so dynamic last season.
Heading into this match, the Whitecaps were 3-0-0 when scoring first, so the 19th minute goal certainly put them on the front foot. Moreover, it would require San Jose to push forward, looking for an equalizer and allowing the Whitecaps to counter. Despite having six corners to San Jose’s two, and four scoring opportunities, Vancouver was unable to carry it into the break, giving up a late goal to Danny Hoesen.
While some tried to make the argument that Hoesen was offside, it was clearly onside. Once again, the Caps were unable to capitalize on their opportunities, while their opponent was able to capitalize on one of their two.
As has been the case far too often the past several years, the Whitecaps came out flat after the break and paid for it in the 53rd minute, when Nick Lima let a shot go from outside the box that found the corner. While I would not put the blame for this one on Juarez, he was certainly off-the-pace in defending. I have not been a vocal detractor of Juarez, but I am beginning to come around on that prevailing sentiment.
It’s been an issue for years. First 10 minutes after half time are almost always lifeless— Jay Duke (@jay_duke) May 17, 2018
After some sustained pressure, Reyna was able to square the match in the 64th minute, off a cross in from newly resigned Marcel de Jong. Despite the goal, one has to wonder why balls were being delivered in to Reyna and Techera, with Kamara sitting behind the play (it had been happening for the previous ten minutes or so).
The Whitecaps would continue to press forward, but were unable to find the go-ahead goal. Maybe we are being too critical, but once again, Carl Robinson’s tactics must be questioned. Looking lively, and nearly scoring just before coming off, Robinson pulled Reyna out in the 84th minute. This is not a shot against Mezquida, but Robbo took off his most dynamic player in the match for a cold sub, who had little time to make an impact on the match. Moreover, Mezquida would be a player you bring on if you were leading.
With the Earthquakes dreadful road record last season and to begin this season, coupled with coming out in a 5-4-1 formation, it must be looked at as a very disappointing outcome for Whitecaps fans. Like the Houston match, this was a game the Whitecaps should have won. One last thought, there was a stretch midway through the second half where the game was more open and the Whitecaps were able to run at the Earthquakes. They looked dynamic and entertaining, as they did in the second half against Houston. It seems that they are capable of playing that type of game, and certainly have the offensive weapons to put defenses under siege. It just seems that a Carl Robinson-led squad will never be one that pushes forward and dictates the play.
The Whitecaps now travel to Texas for a Saturday afternoon match against FC Dallas