By Steve Pandher
The Vancouver Whitecaps returned to their winning ways after going four without one as they defeated the league leading San Jose Earthquakes 2-1. The scoring opened after newly acquired Dane Richards picked up his first goal as a Cap but it was countered before halftime when Alan Gordon headed in an equalizer. The second half was a great end to end match that saw opportunities for both teams but it was Barry Robson who got the winner off the penalty spot after Camilo had earned the foul.
The first opportunity of the match went the Caps way when after some work by Richards the ball was crossed in by Lee which was just missed by a leaping Mattocks. Then it was Robson’s turn a few minutes later when the ball came to him just outside the box but his drive went over the bar. The chances continued as Koffie and Mattocks tried to play a give and go that lacked the last touch going into the box
A giveaway by Koffie gave the Quakes their first chance as Wondolowski picked up the ball and attempted a run that was stopped by a caution earning tackle by Bonjour. San Jose had two cracks at the free kick as Robson crossed into the ten yard zone, earning him a yellow, for the first one and Bernardez fired the second attempt over the bar.
The consistent pressure finally paid off for the Caps in the twentieth minute when Lee found Richards coming off the wing. The Jamaican exposed the defender with his pace as he streaked into the box and fired the ball over Busch into the net giving the Whitecaps the opening goal.
Soon after the goal San Jose started to apply the pressure with some good work near the top of the box but the ball found its way harmlessly to Cannon. A couple of more chances within minutes as first Wondolowski’s header sailed over the bar and then Dawkins missed a volley at the far post after another cross.
It was the Earthquakes turn to cash in on their pressure as the team’s leader in assists Chavez crossed a ball that was converted by Alan Gordon. There was some controversy to the goal as replays showed Gordon had knocked down Rochat in the box to give himself more space. Chavez almost contributed with a goal.
The Earthquakes came out of the break with the first chance after a string of passes gave Dawkins some space on the left side to take a shot forcing Cannon to dive but the shot just missed the target. Minutes later the Whitecaps responded thanks to the pace of Richards who was able to outrun his mark for a third of the pitch which led to blocked shot by Camilo.
Camilo then had the chance to play the role of playmaker as he gained the end line and came within a couple of inches of finding a diving Mattocks in the six yard box. Richards continued his strong play as he made a run into the box and cut across the defender only to miss the far post by a foot or so.
The two teams traded chances as first Lee dazzled the crowd with fancy footwork giving him space to cross the ball into the box. Minutes later Alan Gordon found himself with a chance to break to tie as he found himself with a shot inside the box but he failed to get anything behind allowing Cannon to smother it.
After working the ball around Barry Robson attempted a shot that was partially blocked finding its way to Camilo whose foot was clipped on his way to net earning the Caps their first attempted penalty of the season. The designated player grabbed the ball immediately and blasted the ball into the top corner giving the home side the lead again.
Once again Richards almost created a chance with his pace as he cut along the end line sending a square ball to Mattocks whose shot deflected off Busch for a corner. After a San Jose free kick the Whitecaps countered as Camilo sent in Mattocks who worked across the box but sent his attempt wide of the post.
Minutes into coming onto the pitch for his debut as a Whitecap, Kenny Miller almost had a dream start as a DeMerit sent in the striker but the touch was off and Busch was able to grab it. The visitors carried the play for the final five minutes plus four minutes of added time but their best chance came from second half sub Sercan Guvenisik who sent his shot wide of the net.
The Whitecaps rebounded from the mid-week game against LA that felt like a loss even though they earned a draw. Once again the new additions played a big part in the three points including the debut of Kenny Miller who on with about ten minutes to go. However it was Dane Richards, their only acquisition within MLS that performed the best earning himself man of the match honours.
Closing out games has been a big point of discussion for the Caps going into the second half of the season and they proved they were able to hold off one of the best attacking teams in MLS. The club now has their longest break in some time as they will travel to Utah to face another tough test in Real Salt Lake on Friday.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes
SAN JOSE: Jon Busch; Steve Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow; Marvin Chavez (Shea Salinas 64th minute), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca (Sercan Guvenisik 82nd minute), Simon Dawkins; Chris Wondolowski, Alan Gordon [Subs Not Used: David Bingham; Ike Opara, Cesar Diaz Pizarro, Khari Stephenson, Jed Zayner]
VANCOUVER: Joe Cannon; Lee Young-Pyo, Martin Bonjour, Jay Demerit, Alain Rochat; Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie; Dane Richards, Barry Robson, Camilo(Jordan Harvey 85th minute); Darren Mattocks(Kenny Miller 78th minute) [Subs Not Used: Brad Knighton, Carlyle Mitchell, Russell Teibert, Matt Watson, Atiba Harris]