The Vancouver Whitecaps took on the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS action on Friday night. Here’s our match review from that one.
They didn’t necessarily take a step back, but they didn’t take a step forward, either.
In the midst of a streak that has seen them pick up 4 draws in a row, drawing 6 of their last 8 games total, one could only wonder if the Vancouver Whitecaps would finally halt their middling ways with a victory on Friday, when they took on the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS action.
But alas, it was not meant to be, as the ‘Caps and the ‘Quakes would instead combine for a 0-0 draw, one short on chances or any sort of offensive action.
For a clash between 2 of the worst defensive teams in the league, one could have only wondered if there would be goals in this game, but instead, the answer would be no, leaving both teams to share the spoils, and for the ‘Caps to pick up their 4th clean sheet of the season.
So for the ‘Caps, that leaves them with 7 draws in their last 9 games now, but that shouldn’t be as surprising, as the ‘Quakes now have 6 in their last 8, as both sides haven’t been able to find a way to pick up 3 points off of their opponents as of late.
Because of that, it shouldn’t have been so surprising to see both teams draw, but with both sides just outside of the playoff picture right now, that’ll leave them to both rue what could’ve been, something they’ve both dealt with a lot as of late.
“It was up for grabs tonight,” ‘Caps goalkeeper, Maxime Crepeau, said after the game. “It was. The first half, we wanted to attract them and then exploit the spaces between the lines.”
He continued: “We had our moments in their half that we could’ve gotten more in, so that’s the thing we need to build for our next game in Austin.”
To start, the game would begin on a rather quiet note, as both teams struggled to break through the other for the first 20 or so minutes.
The ‘Caps would get the first good look of the game, as Leonard Owusu managed to find some space in midfield to have a go from distance after a nice Janio Bikel interception, but he sent his shot just over the crossbar, failing to test J.T. Marcinkowski in goal.
Soon after, the ‘Caps then picked up a phenomenal chance to score, as Ryan Raposo had a lovely dribble from a deep position before teeing up Brian White in behind the Earthquakes defence, but the Vancouver striker just couldn’t slide it past Marcinkowski, who got a solid hand to the effort.
A few minutes later, the ‘Quakes would then get their first good chance of the game, as Javier ‘Chofis’ Lopez popped up in a nice pocket inside the box off of a corner, but his strong shot would be valiantly blocked by the ‘Caps Javain Brown just on the edge of the 6-yard box, helping deny what looked like almost a sure goal.
And after a short lull in the match, the ‘Quakes then got their best chance of the half in the 30th minute, as Luciano Abecasis whipped in a lovely ball to Jeremy Ebobisse at the back post, and San Jose’s big summer acquisition tried to make something special of it, attempting an acrobatic volley, but his effort would be palmed out by Maxime Crepeau in the ‘Caps goal, denying him a debut goal.
From there, they’d try to keep up the pressure, as Cristian Espinoza then had a good look from outside of the box in the 34th minute, but he sent his shot well over, keeping the game tied at 0.
But other than that, both teams would cruise into half time, as chances were certainly at a premium for those watching, with either side seemingly content with the draw. Considering that among their last 14 games combined, there have been 10 draws, that’s not that surprising, but it didn’t make for very watchable soccer.
Because of that, the next big chance of the game wouldn’t come all the way until the 60th minute, as Ebobisse found some space at the edge of the box, and he sent in a great low strike, but Crepeau did well to push the shot off of the post and out, keeping the game level.
Right after, the ‘Caps then had a good look of their own in the 66th minute, as Russell Teibert found some space right at the edge of the box after Deiber Caicedo lost the ball, and he sent a missile towards goal, but his shot sailed just wide, giving the ‘Quakes a break.
But other than that, neither team would have a clear look at goal from the rest of the game onwards, other than a half-chance here or there, leaving it to be a 0-0 draw.
For the ‘Caps, it’s certainly not a bad result in the overall context of a season, as you can never complain about a road point, but for a team that has struggled to pick up wins as of late, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.
Sitting last in the Western Conference, it’ll be hard for them to crawl out of this already big hole if they continue to dig it deeper, and although they’re not digging as deep as they would be if they were losing, the draws certainly aren’t helping.
Good news is on the horizon, as the ‘Caps are so close to making their long-awaited homecoming, and are slowly getting names back into their squad, which along with the integration of some new faces, should give them a boost.
Can that be enough for them to turn around this strange rut? It’s too early to tell, but hopefully that silver lining comes through sooner rather than later, before it’s too late.
“We always try to play for the 3 points,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said after the game. “There are some moments in the minutes 88 and 92 where we were pressing, we went for the 3 points.”
He added: “But again, when you don’t win, you don’t win.”
Player of the Match: Ranko Veselinovic
Moving on, it’s worth noting that while this game was relatively quiet, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t any bright performances, and there was none brighter than Veselinovic’s, as he was a force at the back for the ‘Caps.
With some big blocks, thundering headers, perfectly timed lunges and some overall solid fundamental defending, Veselinovic did everything he needed to and more in this game, making him an easy candidate for this award.
After some big ups and downs last year, he’s taken a big step forward this year, and that was once again reflected in his performance in this game, as there’s a reason why he’s one of only a few ‘Caps to play a part in all of their 4 clean sheets this year.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Florian Jungwirth
Otherwise, it was a rare flop in this section, as Jungwirth didn’t end up playing a minute against his former club, making it a quiet return to his old stomping grounds.
That doesn’t mean that he had no impact, as he helped the ‘Caps scout the ‘Quakes ahead of this game, but it would’ve been interesting to see him take part in the festivities here.
To be fair, that’s not to say that he was missed, as the ‘Caps did keep the clean sheet, but it could’ve made for a good storyline, and this game certainly could have used that based on how the game went.
Heatmap of the Match:
After a step forward in this section last week, it’s a return to usual service here in this game, as the ‘Caps didn’t really threaten San Jose’s box enough.
To be fair to them, the ‘Quakes didn’t really threaten there’s, either, but seeing how bad the ‘Caps needed the win, one would’ve liked to see a bit more offensive threat from them.
But alas, they wouldn’t be able to find any in this game, and that’s reflected in that diagram.
xG plot of the Match:
Lastly, another surprisingly good performance from the ‘Caps in this section, as they actually won the Expected Goals (xG) battle once again, limiting the ‘Quakes to just 0.6 xG, which shows how strong of a defensive performance it was.
Again, it’d be nice to see them generate more than 1 xG themselves, but if they can keep defending like this, and just find some sort of life offensively, they’ve found a decent recipe for success as of late, even if the results aren’t backing it.
After being mostly battered in these sorts of offensive statistics the past 2 and a half seasons, it’s been nice to see them take a step forward here these past few games, although it’d be nice to see them pick up a win sooner rather than later.
So now, the ‘Caps will have to quickly turn around ahead of their next game, a clash with MLS newbies, Austin FC, in their new stadium on Wednesday, before making their long-awaited return to BC Place next Saturday to take on LAFC.
Having spent the first 18 games of this season away from home, which will obviously become 19 after that Austin game, it’s a homecoming that’s been far too long in the making, so the ‘Caps will look to make the most of it.
Before then, though, it’d be nice to see them pick up a victory to raise spirits before that game, giving fans a reason to believe in their chances of beating LA next weekend.
But with points in 8 of their last 9 games, they’re certainly not in bad form, but with 1 win in the last 14 games, they’ll look to find a victorious spark as soon as this midweek game, paving the way for a memorable homecoming next weekend.
“The positive news is that we’ve got a lot of games in BC Place that we need to make count,” Crepeau said. “To win those games where we have to start adding 3 points, if we want to be in the playoffs at the end of the year. Yes, we’re not losing, but we’re not winning, either, so it’s just about (finding) momentum.”
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Austin FC, Wednesday, August 18th, 2021, 18:00 PDT, 21:00 EDT (Q2 Stadium, Austin)
Cover Photo via: Vancouver Whitecaps/Twitter