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Pre-Match: Caps finish homestead with San Jose Earthquakes tilt

Is this ... momentum?

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Match Information

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Location: BC Place

When: Saturday May 14, 4:00 p.m. PST, 7:00 p.m. EST

Watching: TSN (Canada), ESPN+ (USA)

What to watch for

Well, well, well. Don’t look now but the Caps have mustered something approximating momentum. O.K., sure it was a win over a CPL team and a struggling, injury depleted Toronto FC team but in these trying times we have to take what we can get.

Whether that momentum can carry over against San Jose on Saturday remains to be seen, however.

The Quakes have had an interesting year, in large part due to the drama of Matias Almeyda’s leadership of the team. The Argentine was put out to pasture last month and the move appears to have boosted what was previously a pretty anemic team.

San Jose have won three of their last five (including a U.S. Open Cup match) after a miserable start to the season and while the good run of form hasn’t fixed some of the structural problems with the team, it does serve as a reminder that they won’t be an easy out on Saturday. Their away form gives a bit more hope — they haven’t won an away league match all season long.

Interestingly, the Quakes score a decent amount of goals — an above average number for a Western Conference team and twice the amount per match that the Caps create — but don’t have as many big chances (third-to-last in the league, though they’re still outpacing Vancouver). Their defense is porous, the worst in the league in terms of goals conceded per match.

Of note for San Jose is the arrival of Jamiro Monteiro, who arrived from Philadelphia in February for $451k in funny money. Monteiro has been pretty solid in the attacking band alongside another MLS castoff, Jan Gregus, and the always dangerous Cristian Espinoza. Jeremy Ebobisse remains the lone striker up top.

The defense, however, has been the real issue. San Jose reshuffled the deck chairs in the backline after a 3-0 pounding at the hands of NYCFC and it appears to have steadied things, with the Quakes holding off Colorado last week in their first clean sheet of the season. The move to re-insert Nathan into the starting XI paid off, as he tallied a goal and earned Man of the Match honors alongside Francisco Calvo who, somewhat unbelievably, has been the most dependable defender on the team.

This is a situation where the Caps could actually exploit some of the confidence they may have gained in the past few matches. As the Toronto FC match showed, the team is not always the best at taking it to a flawed opponent and San Jose has the attacking potency to hit back.

The Caps remain without Caio Alexandre, Leo Owusu and Cristian Gutierrez, meaning a starting XI that should resemble what they went with against Toronto. The move to a more conventional backline with the 4-2-2-2 formation seemed to pay some dividends and it should give them a bit of control against San Jose.

UPDATE: Bad news on the fitness front: Ryan Gauld and Tos Ricketts are unavailable for the Quakes match after entering health and safety protocol. A blow for the Caps, it goes without saying. This might lead to seeing Pedro Vite getting a start, particularly after Ryan Raposo’s involvement in the midweek.

I’m always leery to predict a Caps win these days but this homestead has been kind to Vancouver and I think their attacking players are in good enough form to exploit a gettable San Jose backline. Give me 2-1 Vancouver on Saturday night.


Andrew: 2-1 Vancouver

Luis: 2-1 Vancouver

Sam: 3-1 Vancouver