The Whitecaps and Earthquakes, two teams seeking full points, had to share during the cold and rainy matchup in Vancouver.
There were some odd lineup decisions by Caps coach Teitur Thordarson, as he started Wes Knight at right back and had Dunfield and Brovsky pair together in the midfield. Cronin and Ring took full advantage of this and had their way with the MLS newcomers.
The match kicked off on time in cold Vancouver. It took mere seconds before San Jose showed everyone their tactics and hoofed the ball from the back into the box three consecutive times. They then proceeded to lose every header.
The Whitecaps on the other hand, stayed with their usual tactics - work the ball up to Hassli, spray it out to the wings, and let the speed and skill of Davide Chiumiento and Shea Salinas get the ball up the pitch.
The Caps got a few early chances through Salinas, who got his first start of the year. He was able to get behind Ramiro Corrales easily, but the final ball was lacking and the runs by the strikers didn’t leave him with many options.
As the game settled down, San Jose started to create more chances. Jeb Brovsky accidently-on- purpose clipped Ryan Johnson outside the 'Caps box. The resulting Wondolowski free kick was headed for the top corner but Jay Nolly did well to parry it over the bar.
The Whitecaps pushed forward well when they got the ball, but could never settle down and retain possession. Too often they gave the ball back quickly and were forced to track back in emergency.
Salinas, after starting well, disappeared and Davide Chiumiento was very predictable on the left wing. Ike Opera did well to adjust to Chiumiento and shut him out of the game.
San Jose countered and created a few wonderful strikes from outside the box. Dunfield and Brovsky seemed all too happy to leave San Jose extra room to attack with pace and room to shoot.
Ring and Cronin started having their way with Terry Dunfield and Jeb Brovsky around the 30 minute mark. Nine minutes later, they were rewarded.
Brovsky gave the ball away needlessly in front of the Earthquake goal and as they pushed forward, Dunfield gave it back to them three times in 15 seconds. Finally, on the third give-away Cronin let rip and the shot was well saved low and to the left by Jay Nolly. However, the rebound didn’t get pushed out of bounds. The free ball was passed short side by Johnson and Wondolowski back heeled it in, making the score 1-0 San Jose thanks to a comedy of errors from Whitecaps.
The rest of the half played out the same, San Jose attacking with pace and Dunfield and Brovsky letting them do so.
The second half started the same as the first ended, with Cronin and Ring bossing the midfield. To add to the Whitecaps' problems, Wes Knight started to leave himself badly exposed at right back. He horribly mistimed a tackle and Sam Cronin tapped the ball past him to run at goal. He chose a short side shot instead of cutting inside and luckily for the Whitecaps missed the net.
Ryan Johnson continued to expose Knight time and time again and Steven Lenhart benefitted. He had a few good chances to put the game out of reach, but failed to hit the target.
On the 65th minute Salgado came on for Hassli in a questionable substitution. Hassli was one of the few Whitecaps players that could collect the ball in the midfield and push it forward.
Cronin, Ring and Johnson must have thought they died and went to heaven with all the time being given to them. A better team would have put this game out of reach early, but they just couldn’t find a quality strike.
San Jose started to sit back and protect the lead around the 65th minute and the Whitecaps started to create chances again. There was no finish though, and when a shot got through Jon Busch did well to push the ball to safety.
Whitecaps fans finally had something to cheer about as in the 75th minute their captain Jay DeMerit came back from an injury to get a run-around.
With all three subs used in like-for-like substitutions the game didn’t change. When San Jose pushed forward the Whitecaps had no answer and looked impotent going forward themselves.
Coach Teitur Thordarson threw the play book out the window in the 80th minute and moved to a 3-4-3 going forward. With San Jose sitting back it was a wise move, but there was no Hassli anymore and the lack of skill up front showed.
The game was done and dusted, but San Jose didn’t go for the kill shot. They obviously never heard that every 'Caps home game has a goal in extra time and this was no different.
Chiumiento fired a cross in from the right side that went untouched and flew into the far post 1-1. Jon Busch thought Janicki was going to get a head on it and didn’t react as the ball drifted into the net.
San Jose will be kicking themselves for letting the win get away and the Whitecaps will hope the late goal will gloss over what was a horrible performance.
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