The Whitecaps returned back to the team that gave them their biggest false dawn this season; Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes. The last match between these two teams ended in one of the biggest Whitecaps collapses of the past years, and for many set the sour tone that would accompany the team since the MLS is Back tournament. This could be chalked up to that even with the appropriate time for the Whitecaps to work on their tactics and for their signings to settle and catch up to the team, they seemed to be unable to understand or fix their mistakes. But that is in the past, and the Whitecaps have come a long way from there, so how they deal with the team that’s keeping the Whitecaps’ embarrassing season out of the headlines should show the improvement they’ve made so far.
Here’s the lineups:
Notably, San Jose was missing some key players from their usual lineup, including but not limited to talisman Vako and defender Marcos Lopez. The Whitecaps weren’t missing anyone on the night that would hurt them, although Khmiri was called up by Tunisia.
Many among the league were predicting this match to be a high octane, offensive affair promising lots of goals as both teams have been on the receiving end of some massive scorelines.
The opening ten minutes seemed to promised just that, as both teams came out flying with an intensity that hasn’t been seen in many of their regular games. It wasn’t long before both teams traded shots, with Evan bush announcing himself by making a safe save early in the match. Both of these teams needed these points to have hope to reach the playoffs, and both were in a position to believe that they could comfortably beat the other and the bite that each player had was visible.
Improving on the previous game, the Whitecaps seemed more sure in possession and were more competent on the defense as well, their organizational improvement was apparent and all of the goal threats came from chances that the Whitecaps made themselves rather than lapse of play from San Jose. Although San Jose seemed to take control of the game in the gap from the tenth to twentieth minute, the Whitecaps absorbed and launched their own attack after that consisted of multiple shots and corners.
A small injury scare to Godoy seemed to shake the Whitecaps’ resolve near the thirtieth minute and Cristian Espinoza had a chance rom a breakaway after the Whitecaps were standing flat footed.
The game continued as it began, with many players slipping due to the field conditions, as they seemed less than ideal on the night. Owusu unfortunately got himself caught in a tackle and went to ground for a while, but it was nothing that would have required a sub. As quickly as Owusu got on his feet, San Jose capitalized and had two quick breakaways that were unlucky to miss or hit the hands of Evan Bush, who looked more formidable as the minutes went on.
As the half ended, San Jose seemed to be having the bulk of the attacks, but the Whitecaps were not backing down, especially with the performance of Evan Bush. That’s not to say they didn’t get attacks in themselves, as Baldisimo and Montero both had cracks on net. Going in to the dressing room, the Whitecaps had a lot to be proud about and congratulate themselves for, as this was their most composed performance against San Jose in a long time.
In the second half, Russel Teibert was swapped out for David Milinkovic in order to add some speed and dynamism to the attack. It seemed to be for naught though, as the Whitecaps began to play like they classically do at the start of a half, down a goal. As has been the theme this year, it seems that after anything good from the Whitecaps they are let down by blunders twice as big. In this case, the it was the goal and a red card to Andy Rose shortly after. It seemed that like always, the Whitecaps were not able to keep their composure as if every half is a clean slate while the opposing team strategizes and adapts to the game around them.
Ricketts was replaced by Veselinovic, who is super close to triggering his appearance clause that would force the Whitecaps to take the Serbian on a permanent deal.
With ten men on the field, San Jose seemed to grow into a insurmountable monster which the Whitecaps were struggling to break down. The lone attack of note from their first fifteen minutes ended up with a terrible shot from Cristian Dajome.
A little after that, Andy Rios added his own goal to the tally as the Whitecaps seemed to sink deeper and deeper into their self dug hole.
Rios scoring.— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) October 8, 2020
THINGS YOU LOVE TO SEE. pic.twitter.com/mDl1bm6ZuZ
San Jose kept sending tremors up the field with very few Whitecap attacks to break the onslaught. To add insult to injury, a relatively soft foul by Erik Godoy in the Earthquakes’ box was given a red card without review. (From the broadcast it didn’t look like it was too harsh of a foul, and it was weird that it didn’t go to VAR) This pushes the Whitecaps misery past just this match, as the aforementioned lack of need for Jasser Khmiri suddenly became a real problem as now the Whitecaps had two centrebacks suspended for the next match.
The second half was so much more of a classic San Jose affair, with the Whitecaps playing inferior to the Earthquakes, and all of the attacks seemed to flow into one continuous pressure from the Californian team. The subs brought on by the ‘Caps’ were nothing but band-aids and could not change the state of the team. This as made obvious by Paul Marie’s third goal that put the game to rest. Surprisingly, after a promising first half that looked like the Whitecaps’ most positive performance in a while, the wheels seemed to come off and they somehow put on a worse performance than that of the MLS is back.
In conclusion, there’s not much to say about this game. The Whitecaps were soundly beaten by the west’s whipping boy in terms of goals against and goal differential, and now they swapped places for the latter stat. More shocking than the result today will be reprecussions it has on the next game which is where the Whitecaps’ mismanagement of personnel, tactics and everything else will be in full show.