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Vancouver Whitecaps Show up 30 Minutes Late to Match but Win!

After looking like it was going to be ‘one of those nights’, the Vancouver Whitecaps pull out a victory against San Jose Earthquakes thanks mostly to a nine-minute stretch in the second half.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Whitecaps traveled down to San Jose to take on the Earthquakes in a must win match for the Caps. Carl Robinson started a first-string lineup with Russell Teibert being the only ‘slight’ surprise. However, the surprise is not because of his play, as it has been superb, but rather that he has not always been the choice for Robbo despite his strong play.

Despite having only three wins this season, and two of those coming against the equally poor Minnesota United, San Jose started strong, while Vancouver did ‘cappy’ things by playing down to it’s opponent. Just seven minutes into the match Hyka put the Earthquakes ahead on a half volley from the top of the box. It was yet another goal against the Whitecaps that seemed to fall between the back four and the defensive midfield.

San Jose Earthquakes quickly made it 2-0 in the 15th minute, when Marcel de Jong was called for a penalty against Danny Hoesen.

Although they played better to close out the half, it was looking like a same old caps story. Against a feeble opponent, in a game that Caps should, and must, win, they fall short. But hold on...

The start of the second half saw the Whitecaps take three quick yellow cards. First by Yordy Reyna (51’), then Felipe (52’), and finally de Jong (52’). It looked like things were going from bad to worse and that the team was unraveling.

As quickly as it seemed to be unraveling, the game was turned around. Robinson subbed in Aly Ghazal, for Felipe, and Nica Mezquida, for de Jong (moving Davies to LB) in the 56’, which seemed to spark the team.

Reyna got the comeback started in the 59th minute, when he ricocheted a free kick past Tarbell.

Two minutes later, Kei Kamara laid a superb ball in to Cristian Techera, who calmly deked out a defender and slotted into the net, tying the match at 2-2. It is worth noting that the Whitecaps had 24 wins, 9 draws, and 0 defeats when Techera gets a goal or an assist (make that 25 wins now). Obviously, once he put it into the net, I knew a result was coming!

Kei Kamara capped off the comeback seven minutes later, in the 68’. The play started with a fantastic over-the-top ball from Aaron Maund, who wasn’t having the best of matches, to a streaking Yordy Reyna. Reyna made the right decision and slid it across to a trailing Kamara who tapped in the winner.

That was Kamara’s 10 goal in his last 13 matches, across all competitions.

Of course, the Caps cannot make it easy on themselves or their fans, and flirted with a couple of dicey moments to close out this one. While he had a quiet match overall, Davies played a big role in the end, making a fantastic save on a cross late in the match.

In addition, Maund gave his head to preserve the victory for the Caps. After the match, Carl Robinson noted that Maund had a pretty good gash above his eye from the Waston turned Macho Man elbow!

It is worth noting that after the match, Jake Nerwinski said that “Robbo got into us at half time. That’s what woke us up... We got yelled at, and rightfully so.” While Carl commented that his scratchy voice in the post-match was because of the talking to he gave his team at half time. It seemed to work as it fired the team up. They were much more aggressive (Carl noted he liked the three yellow cards as he felt they were not aggressive enough in the first half) and they came on strong in the second half.

In addition, Carl made two key substitutions that really seemed to turn the match around. Felipe was not having a productive match while de Jong looked like he was moments away from getting sent off with a second yellow. Mezquida and Ghazal seemed to quiet the midfield and helped push the club forward.

Meanwhile, Jake had a great match at right back, making a few key tackles and shutting down the right-hand side. After the match I asked Jake what he learned from sitting out a few games earlier this season and he noted “it was tough to sit out, definitely, but I learned a lot...Sean teaches me every day. He’s been in the league a long time and found really good success in the league”. He credits a recent run of games to helping turn things around.

Robbo talked about The Bug’s “work rate off the ball was phenomenal and his quality with the ball was shown in abundance was one of his best this season.”

When we asked him about the Whitecaps allowing at least two goals in 13 of the last 16 MLS matches, he had the following thoughts. “We put a big onus on scoring more goals. When you pull more men forward, than maybe you would when trying to keep clean sheets, you expose yourself.”

Robbo also noted that leaders on the team, like Kei Kamara, also spoke up at half time to help drive the club to the victory.

At the end of the day, it is a road victory, against a club the Caps should have beat. It didn’t start out the best, but it ended correct. Does that mean we ignore the first half hour?

Let us know your thoughts!