The Vancouver Whitecaps lost their 4th game in a row on Wednesday, as they fell 3-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes down in California. Here is our report from that one, as the ‘Caps American nightmare continued.
After a bright start, things faded off quickly.
While that statement could describe the Vancouver Whitecaps trip down to the US as a whole so far, a trip in which they’ve lost 4 games in a row after winning their first game, it also applied on Wednesday night, as a second-half collapse erased a strong first 45 from them in a 3-0 loss.
Against a San Jose Earthquakes team that has typically dominated them these past 2 seasons, it wasn’t the usual sort of game that people have come to expect from these two teams, yet at the same time, the result would prove to be the same.
At a time where any sort of positive result would give a boost to this Whitecaps team, these losses have to hurt, especially considering that they’ve tended to play well in patches before being undone by individual errors.
Right now, things are just not happening for them, so it’ll take a big push in one of their next few games to jump out of this slump, which if it continues, will likely extinguish their already dwindling playoff hopes.
To start the game, the Whitecaps made 5 changes to the lineup that lost to the Seattle Sounders this past Saturday, as they looked to find some fresh bodies, with Tosaint Ricketts, Russell Teibert, Leonard Owusu, Michael Baldisimo and Evan Bush all slotting in for Lucas Cavallini, Janio Bikel, David Milinkovic, Derek Cornelius and Bryan Meredith.
With Cavallini and Bikel suspended, and the others fatigued with the short turnaround, changes were expected, so it was no surprise to see this sort of rotation from Vancouver.
On the other side, the Earthquakes made one change to the lineup, with Tommy Thompson sliding in for Marcos Lopez at left back, as they looked to build off of back-to-back wins over the 2 LA teams, the Galaxy and LAFC.
The game would start out lively, as San Jose came close in the 6th minute, with Cristian Espinoza doing well to put Andy Rose on skates before getting a solid shot towards goal, which would be kept out by Evan Bush.
On the other end, the ‘Caps would start to test JT Marcinkowski in the San Jose goal. Russell Teibert found some space on the flank in the 8th minute, before whipping in a nice ball, which Cristian Dajome leaped up to meet at the penalty spot, forcing a good save from Marcinkowski with his header.
Soon after, Fredy Montero nearly scored a goal of the week candidate, as he danced around a San Jose defender at the top of the box before unleashing a rocket of a strike, which Marcinkowski just managed to tip over the bar.
And with the ensuing corner kick, the ‘Caps came close once again, with Andy Rose doing really well to meet a ball after a nice flick from Montero, but his header was saved by Marcinkowski. 5 minutes later, Rose continued to cause problems in the San Jose box, as he came close on a near-post header, but Marcinkowski continued his strong start to the game by getting a hand to the shot.
Pushed on by the ‘Caps strong patch, San Jose would answer with two of the games’ best chances, nearly opening the score on both occasions.
First, Espinoza sent the ball just over the net off of a chipped attempt, as Rose and Ali Adnan got mixed up on a long kick by Marcinkowski, allowing Espinoza to slip in behind. Next, Judson narrowly sent a shot just wide on a breakaway, as much like Espinoza before him, he did well to get in behind the ‘Caps defence, but was unable to find the gaping cage behind Evan Bush.
To end the half, the ‘Caps almost got an opener via Michael Baldisimo, who found some space at the top of the box after some nice dribbling, before sending a tame shot that would be kept out by Marcinkowski, keeping the score level. Montero also came close on the last kick of the half, as he stood over a 20-yard free-kick, but his shot would be way too tame.
For both teams, it was not the result they would’ve felt like they deserved, as they both got good chances, but ultimately, it was probably a fair score considering the number of chances that they traded.
Heading into the second half, it was clear that one team was poised to make a breakthrough, it just wasn’t sure which one, as they’d both had their chances to get into the game.
Unfortunately for Vancouver, San Jose would be the team that would find that first goal, as third time would be the charm for Espinoza. After another Rose and Adnan mix-up, Espinoza would find some space in the box, and this time he made no mistake, slotting home the ball in the far corner for the first goal.
And as has been the case for the Whitecaps in recent games, when things get bad, they tend to get a lot worse, as Andy Rose would get sent off in the 53rd minute for picking up his second yellow, putting the ‘Caps behind the 8 ball.
Predictably, with a man sent off, the game would open up even more, as both teams would trade chances, as Nick Lima shot just wide inside of the box in the 54th minute, before Cristian Dajome came close in the 60th minute on a good counter-attack, but he’d send his shot well wide.
Soon after, San Jose would find a second goal, as Carlos Fierro found some space down the left-hand side, before sending the ball across the box to Andy Rios, who tapped the ball home to double the lead.
While the rain wasn’t pouring down in San Jose, the metaphorical rain continued to come down for the ‘Caps, as they’d go down to 9 men in the 77th minute, with Erik Godoy joining Rose in the showers after an altercation with Jackson Yueill in the box.
With the 2 extra men helping them, the Earthquakes would continue to pour the pressure on the ‘Caps, as second-half sub, Cade Cowell, found some space in front of the Vancouver backline in the 86th minute, but he’d send his shot right at Bush.
Fortunately for San Jose, that wouldn’t be their last chance of the game, either, as they’d then add a third in the 93rd minute, as Paul Marie found some space down the right hand side, before doing well to pick out the far corner with a low shot, putting a stamp on the game.
After the game appeared to be headed towards an even conclusion, the ‘Quakes came alive in the second half, taking the game into their own hands, ensuring they’d come away with all 3 points.
Vancouver was a bit unfortunate to get 2 players sent off, but at the same time, you make your own luck in this sport, and at the moment, the ‘Caps could certainly use a big horseshoe to hang on the wall of their dressing room.
Man of the Match: Fredy Montero
Always is a challenge to pick a man of the match in these circumstances, but Montero showed well once again in this one, as he was lively in the final third.
His touch was crisp, he was getting stuck in defensively, and was he was just overall doing a good job at causing problems for San Jose, all the way until he came off in the 81st minute.
As the ‘Caps try to work their way out of this tough stretch, they’re going to need Montero to keep the level of play of which he’s found as of late, helping them find the goals they so badly need at the moment.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Cristian Dajome
Dajome was lively on Wednesday, but he was just unable to find a breakthrough in the final third, as he snatched at the only good chance he did create.
In a chaotic game like this one, you would’ve hoped to see him make more of a difference in transition, but unfortunately for him, and the ‘Caps, he didn’t have that extra gear offensively.
On the flip side, he was good defensively, as he usually tends to be, with his consistency as a winger continuing to be a surprise at a position that doesn’t often see much of it in this sport.
Heatmap of the game:
Maybe we’ll have to stop doing this segment because of how bad the Whitecaps have fared in it lately, but at the same time, there’s something amazing about seeing how these maps continue to look game-after-game.
In a period of games where fun hasn’t been very present during these games, this has been one section that has always been interesting to follow, even though it usually hasn’t been for the right reasons.
In good news for the ‘Caps, they finally have their first real ‘home’ game at Providence Park this weekend, or at least their first game where they’ll actually have the ‘home’ field advantage, as they welcome Real Salt Lake to Portland.
After beating them by a score of 2-1 to open up this American adventure, the ‘Caps will hope that they still have some of that magic in them, as they try to avoid extending this losing streak to 5.
It won’t be easy, as they’re in the kind of rut that takes an extra big push to get out of, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like they’re that far off winning, despite what the scorelines suggest.
Ultimately, they’ve just been unable to turn their positive patches of play into any sort of consistent performances, and that’s being reflected in the results.
Luckily for them, in MLS, they’re still in the playoff hunt, but if they keep dropping results to teams around them in the West, it only feels like a matter of weeks until that dream is fully extinguished, making this next game a big one.
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake, Saturday, October 10th, 19:00 PST (Providence Park, Portland)