Post-Match Review #28– Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs San Jose Earthquakes: Earthquakes cause a Tsunami

In a meeting of Mountain vs Earthquake, it was the Earthquakes that would eventually take down the Caps, as they dominated at home en route to an impressive 3-1 win. While the scoreline was close, the match was certainly not, with the Quakes sending wave after wave of attack towards the Vancouver goal, not too dissimilar to a Tsunami in full flight. 

The Caps held strong for 30 minutes, finding the matches first goal as well as keeping San Jose level despite all their chances, but it was only a matter of time until the Earthquakes broke through, and when they did, there was no looking back, as they dominated the Caps all night. 

For Vancouver, it was a tough performance, not just for the result, but for how it came about. Unlike the Portland loss 2 weeks ago, where they at least played exciting football, they were massively outplayed in this one, with their midfield getting completely overrun in the loss. With the rest of this season being billed as an audition for 2020, it would be expected that they could at least lose in an entertaining fashion, but that was not the case Saturday. With 6 games left, some improvement in the style of play could make things a lot more entertaining, as 6 more outings like this would do a lot to discourage fans heading into next year. But, without further ado, let’s jump into what happened on the night. 

Recap:

San Jose started strong, putting Vancouver under pressure from the get-go. After a long strike from Magnus Eriksson went out for a corner, the ensuing ball in was dangerous, as it was flicked on at the near post before meeting the strong head of Guram Qashia, who headed towards goal, but he was denied by the strong hands of Max Crepeau. 

Vancouver would grow into the game after that spell, putting together a nice bit of controlled possession themselves. They would be rewarded for their efforts, as Theo Bair would hold the ball up well out wide before finding a streaking Jake Nerwinski, who did well to cut inside. Despite being on his weaker left foot, he decided to have a curling effort towards goal, and it worked, as he would find the back of the net for his first MLS tally. 

But Vancouver’s lead would be extremely short-lived, as the Earthquakes would storm up the other way right after the goal, and they would put together a couple of nice passes, toying with the Caps as they pushed up the field. The final of those passes, a probing through ball from Chris Wondowlowski, would find defensive midfielder Judson all alone to the left of Crepeau, and he would make no mistake, equalizing with authority. 

Cristian Espinoza would nearly double the lead less than a minute later, as he found some space way out wide, and what seemed like an ambitious shot from the Argentine nearly tickled twine, as Crepeau was left to make a great save to keep it out. 

Right after, Jake Nerwinski almost found a brace, as he found himself all alone at the halfway line, with Yordy Reyna in support and only one defender remotely close to him, but he inexplicably played the ball to a well offside Reyna, nullifying the move. It was a good chance for Nerwinski to double his MLS account, but he got too trigger happy with the space he had ahead of him. 

The action-packed start to the game continued into the 12th minute, as San Jose would win yet another corner. They would send a dangerous-looking ball in, looping a curler back post, and it nearly found the net, as an unmarked Wondolowski, the all-time MLS leading goal scorer, headed towards what seemed to be a sure goal for him, but Crepeau denied him his 11th of this campaign. 

San Jose continued to be relentless, putting Vancouver under the gun, and they nearly found the lead in the 18th, with Vako, who tormented the Caps back at BC Place in July, hitting a cultured strike from distance, forcing Crepeau to make a nice stop. 

The Quakes got creative in the 26th minute, as they elected to play a free-kick quickly despite a great location, and they nearly found the back of the net, but Crepeau stood strong on the strike from Vako. 

Max Crepeau staying strong began to become a theme for Vancouver, as he would make an impressive double save in the 30th minute, stopping Eriksson on a strike from in close, before he stretched out to save a shot from a little further out delivered by Espinoza. With the Caps sitting back as San Jose continued to fire everything towards their goal, a big match from Crepeau was the only thing keeping them from looking completely porous at that point in the match. 

And he was unable to maintain it, as Vancouver’s backline would have yet another defensive breakdown in the 35th minute, as they were too lackadaisical defending a corner. Florian Jungwirth would do well to flick the ball on from the penalty spot, and it would find Wondolowski all alone at the back post, and he would make no mistake with the header, adding to his all-time record tally. 

San Jose continued to swarm the Whitecaps goal, like flies on a puddle of honey, and they would nearly find their third of the game, but Vako’s ambitious volley was denied by Crepeau, who was the only reason the game wasn’t 6-1 at that point. 

The half would come to a close without much else action, almost mercifully for Vancouver. With San Jose looking unstoppable on the night, putting Vancouver into a chokehold, it felt like only a matter of time until San Jose would take total control. With only a narrow 2-1 lead, a Vancouver equalizer could turn things right around, but that was unlikely to happen at the rate things were going. 

San Jose would continue to press in the second, setting the tempo and pushing Vancouver on the back foot. Espinoza nearly added to the Quakes lead in the 49th minute, as he fired a calculated strike near-post from a tight angle in the box, only finding himself denied by the post. 

The Whitecaps would nearly equalize soon after, as they would find some chances against the run of play. Theo Bair would find himself all alone in front of the goal, but he was unable to find a shot in time. On the ensuing corner, Ali Adnan would get the ball back out wide after his original ball was unable to find a Whitecaps head, and he delivered a dangerous second ball, as it would bounce off of a San Jose defender and then off Derek Cornelius, just sailing past the San Jose post. 

Crepeau would be called upon in the 56th minute, as San Jose would send a couple of shots his way, including some dangerous efforts from Eriksson, but the Canadian International would stand strong in his goal, keeping the Caps in a game they had no business being in. 

The tide continued to pour in San Jose’s favour, and it was a miracle they weren’t up 10 or 11-1. Eriksson nearly tucked a tidy effort in the near post from outside the box in the 64th minute, while Wondolowski nearly found an impressive goal himself, turning Doneil Henry inside out before his strike was denied by Crepeau. 

And with the tide pouring in, it was a matter of time until the dam broke, and it finally did in the 73rd minute, with Andy Rios getting the ball at the top of the box, and he hit it first time, making no mistake as the curled strike hit the post and in to give the Quakes a 3-1 lead. It was a much-deserved goal after a dominant spell of play for the Quakes, and it seemed to put the nail in the coffin for Vancouver.

San Jose was unlucky not to add to their lead in the 85th minute, as they would win a free kick in the dangerous area right outside the Vancouver box. Jungwirth would step up to take it, and he would nearly score a beauty, but he was denied by the bar, keeping them only up by 2. 

The game would conclude that way, as neither team would find the back of the net despite some last-minute chances. Reyna came close for Vancouver, nearly redirecting a nice Ricketts cross, but Daniel Vega would keep it out, sealing the 3 points for San Jose. It was the end of a dominant performance for the Quakes, who would leave with a merited result, only ruing the possibility of it being by much more, as Max Crepeau kept it a lot closer than it truly was.  

The performances: 

After the Christmas tree had provided a boost for Vancouver the last few matches, it was unable to deliver much joy in this one, as San Jose were dominant. With 710 passes to Vancouver’s 236, and 899 touches to 443, they both controlled the game but did it effectively, limiting useless touches and pushing the ball forward with intent. With 75% possession, they were able to toy with Vancouver’s midfielders and backline, and it showed, with their 43 shots meaning a lot was in store for Max Crepeau. 

Jackson Yueill and Magnus Eriksson were dominant in the midfield, with Yueill finishing with a team-high 109 passes to go along with 3 key passes, while Eriksson found 7 key passes to go along with 1 assist, and he was unlucky not to find a goal. Vancouver only found 4 key passes total, 2 of them from Theo Bair, while their 3rd best passer was Crepeau, who made more passes than midfielders Andy Rose and Rusell Teibert, who made 13 and 16 respectively. 

The Caps did amass impressive defensive stats, with Doneil Henry and Derek Cornelius combining for 12 clearances and 7 blocks, but it was more a case of San Jose being dominant that being from great defending. With the Quakes holding onto the ball all match, Vancouver was bound to make some defensive actions, and they did quite well in doing so, but it was a case of not being enough on the night. Ali Adnan made 4 interceptions, while Hwang and Teibert both added 3 themselves, but much like the other stats, it was not enough to nullify the problem that was generated from other parts of the pitch. 

Ultimately, Vancouver struggled because they were unable to be effective with their offensive possessions, holding onto the ball too long and not moving it forward when possible, while San Jose played quickly and smartly, not afraid to push the ball inside when available, but also dominating the flanks, crossing the ball whenever the opportunity presented itself. It meant that they would find a lot of chances from wide areas, which would open up space in the middle of the pitch, which they would subsequently exploit, passing their way into the box or shooting from distance if available. 

For the Caps, the positives they can take from the match are from Crepeau, who’s MLS record-breaking 16 saves kept this from getting really ugly, from Ricketts, Chirinos and Bangoura, who did help Vancouver push the ball a bit further forward when inserted, and the defence, who did alright to stem the flow at times, with their mistakes mostly being off set-pieces. The midfield was the main area of concern, as they were unable to both push the ball forward and help out defensively, which meant that the Caps struggled massively in both regards on the evening. 

Man of the Match: Max Crepeau

(Keveren Guillou)

Who else? After a match like that, Crepeau better be expecting 10 beers, as his teammates owe him for not letting the match get to double-digits. Crepeau continues to shine for Vancouver, and them locking him up long-term was probably the best move they made this offseason, as he is the only reason they find themselves with 27 points so far in 2019. 

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Derek Cornelius

(Keveren Guillou)

While Cornelius was not nearly as dominant as last week, he was solid, but he was unable to turn the tide defensively. His team was disappointing overall, as they struggled to limit San Jose’s time and space on the ball, and it showed in the stats. Cornelius was slightly at fault on the second goal, as he didn’t track Wondolowski well, but the same could be said for Andy Rose, who was closer to the all-time MLS leading goalscorer than Cornelius. All in all, we’ll chalk it up as a solid, not good not bad performance from the Canadian. 

Crepeau Love:

This was at half time. Don’t want to even imagine what it looks like now. Get this man a car. 

Gone Streaking:

Some good runs came to an end tonight, the Caps ended a nice 4 games of form, and B and G Media ended their predictions run. It was an impressive run from them, and we’re curious to see if they are able to reignite it next week. 

Heatmap of the Match:

San Jose put up a dominant heat map performance, dominating all over the pitch, especially in the midfield. Vancouver? Unable to push forward, with a huge gap left in the midfield and out wide. Microcosm of their season really. 

Looking Forward:

Vancouver get no rest after this one, as they take on Montreal on Wednesday. Montreal is reeling themselves after experiencing a tough loss against Toronto earlier on Saturday, so both teams will want to get back in the win column. For the Caps, they’ll just want to get back to playing higher quality football, so they’ll use the next few days of training to do so, and hopefully they find something as they build towards next year. 

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Montreal Impact, Wednesday August 28th, 2019, 17:00 PST (Stade Saputo, Montreal) 

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