For fifty minutes last week, the 2018 campaign appeared to be over. Sure, there’d be a schedule to see through to the end, but a two-goal deficit to the worst club in the league during a push to the playoffs would be a gut punch of the highest order.
And yet they countered, again and again and again.
The grind for the MLS Cup continues onward for the Vancouver Whitecaps (10-9-7) as they stare down the San Jose Earthquakes (4-14-8) for the second week running.
Where: BC Place, Vancouver, BC
When: Saturday, September 1st, at 7 pm PST
How: TSN1, TSN4 (TV); 1040 AM (Radio); ESPN+ (Internet)
Vancouver is only a week removed from their come from behind victory in San Jose, a match where you could almost literally see the club’s entire season disappearing into nothingness, particularly when you’ve given up two garbage goals to the worst team in the league.
Understandably, Carl Robinson was not happy.
Nerwinski: Robbo really ripped in to us at the half, and justifiably so— Eighty Six Forever (@86forever) August 26, 2018
Good to hear.
The important thing is that the boys on the pitch did something about it. And, after collecting three escalatingly ugly yellow cards in the span of a minute, then, well, this happened:
3 goals. 9 minutes. 1 epic comeback.#VWFC pic.twitter.com/9UTruomEy4— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) August 26, 2018
And now, a week later, the Whitecaps play host to the same San Jose Earthquakes, who I’m certain are looking to return the favor.
The Earthquakes season is all but over, as the club sits eighteen points adrift of the final playoff spot with only eight matches remaining. And yet, a midweek match saw the ‘Quakes hang four goals on first-place FC Dallas, in a resounding 4-3 victory.
True, San Jose did squander leads on multiple occasions this past Wednesday, but the fact that they responded to each setback with a goal and a renewed lead demonstrates how capable the club can be in forgetting prior setbacks.
It can’t be “Goonies never say die!” all the time for San Jose, particularly this season, but I’m certain the Whitecaps won’t want to give life to a team at the death. Again.
All-time, the Whitecaps hold a 7-4-9 record against the Earthquakes in MLS matchups, with 6 of those wins (and 3 draws) coming in Vancouver.
Availability for both teams appears to keep in line with last week’s match, save for a single change to be had by the visiting Earthquakes.
Though he made his return from suspension in the Wednesday match against Dallas, Shea Salinas will most likely feature at for San Jose at left back this time around. Otherwise, defender Kevin Partida (right ACL reconstruction surgery and partial meniscectomy) remains unavailable indefinitely, while centerback Harold Cummings is listed as Questionable following a thigh injury at practice on August 18th.
For the Whitecaps, only Jose Aja (left quad) and Jordon Mutch (right foot) remain out, while Brek Shea (back tightness) remains as Questionable on the MLS Injury Report.
One name not listed is that of Doneil Henry. He may have been “touch and go” last week, and he did recently receive a call-up to the Men’s National Team (along with Alphonso Davies, Marcel de Jong, and Russell Teibert), so I’m thinking his surgery went well. Given the nature of the injury (a busted hand born out of frustration due to you-know-what), I’m thinking he’ll be ready for a run on Saturday.
Who’s Worth Watching?
Kei Kamara vs. The Defense
Yordy Reyna could just as easily slot in here, but if anything last week’s match should prove as an example of what Vancouver needs to do to break down the Earthquakes’ defense. This isn’t to say that the Whitecaps’ offensive outlook has changed by any means; they were again out-possessed overall, but the potency of the club’s counterattack was magnified by poor defending from San Jose.
Samuel slid this tweet into his report card last week, but these stat lines are worth noting once again:
#VWFC forwards made the difference in #SJvVAN.— #ThankYouDeuce (@JogaBonito_USA) August 26, 2018
Kamara: 1 goal, 1 assist, 3 shots, 2 SOG, 3 key passes, 37 touches, 22/26 passes, 7/12 duels won, 4 aerials won
Reyna: 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 shot, 2 key passes, 46 touches, 16/22 passes, 5 crosses, 2/3 dribbles, 9/16 duels won#MLS pic.twitter.com/sdOT61cO7X
Unless Robinson is able to sniff out some subtle change that is keeping the Whitecaps from advancing up the pitch, I say let Kamara and Reyna run wild.
Who’s Going to Win?
As encouraging as it may have been for San Jose to rebound with a midweek victory over top-of-the-table Dallas, they’re following it up with an away match on short rest to a side to whom they only recently conceded three unanswered goals in a bitter home loss.
Thankfully for us, that side was Vancouver.
With the way the Whitecaps flipped the script in the second half of last week’s match, I get the sense that the club will maintain their push for the postseason against the side they thoroughly embarrassed in Vancouver during last year’s MLS Playoffs. This Saturday’s match won’t be as polished as that 5-0 trouncing; rather, it will be a scrappy, far lower scoring affair.
The big shock? That the Whitecaps will keep it to less than two Goals Allowed by holding the fort with a 3-1 victory. In no particular order, Kamara, Cristian Techera, and Kendall Waston will find the net and for what it’s worth, so will Chris Wondolowski. There has to be some silver lining to San Jose’s 2018, so breaking Landon Donovan’s record may as well be it.
Vancouver - Marinovic; Nerwinski, Waston, Henry, de Jong; Techera, Ghazal, Teibert, Davies; Reyna, Kamara.
San Jose - Tarbell; Lima, Kashia, Jungwirth, Salinas; Godoy, Fernandes; Erikkson, Qazaishvili, Oduro; Hoesen.
Referee: Mark Geiger; AR1: Frank Anderson; AR2: Jeff Hosking; 4th: Fotis Bazakos; VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.