Whitecaps second half goals doom Earthquakes 2-1

The Vancouver Whitecaps make it up field on the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at Providence Park in Portland in their one goal win over the Earthquakes 2-1 (@ WhitecapsFC photo)

Marko Ukalovic

PORTLAND, Ore.-The Vancouver Whitecaps scored two goals in a six-minute span early in the second half en route to a much needed 2-1 comeback victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on a chilly Saturday evening at Providence Park.

Vancouver’s win snapped a four-game losing streak to San Jose. The Whitecaps have won three out of its last four games and have tied San Jose for seventh place in the Western Conference with 24 points. The Quakes are 4-2-1 in their last seven matches with three matches left in the regular season.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada still has its border closed and therefore Vancouver has needed Providence Park to play its matches, including it’s final four where there will be the home team in three of them.

San Jose (6-8-6) controlled play in the first half as they won the possession battle 62%-38%. Cristian Espinoza had a quality chance to put the Quakes on the board in the 18th minute when Chris Wondolowski set him up with a back pass just outside the box but Espinoza fired high and wide of the net.

The Quakes scored the match’s first goal in the 24th minute. Espinoza started a counter attack near the end line at midfield. He raced down the right side centering the ball right into the middle where an open Carlos Fierro one-timed a right footed shot into the lower right corner of the net beating Whitecaps goalkeeper Evan Bush for his second goal of the season.

The Fierro/Espinoza combo has become a deadly weapon for head coach Matias Almeyda. Espinoza recorded his team leading eighth assist (fourth overall in MLS) on Fierro’s goal. The goal was a rarity for San Jose as that was just its seventh first half goal of the season, compared to the 22 they have scored in the second half.

Vancouver (8-12-0) made its comeback early in the second half. Left back Ali Adnan rifled in a free kick from 30 yards out into the upper left corner of the net that Quakes goalkeeper J.T. Marcinkowski had no chance at in the 51st minute. It was Adnan’s second goal of the season.

Then just six minutes later, a defensive breakdown by San Jose led to an odd-man rush inside the box where Cristian Dájome’s shot from the left side deflected off the hand of Marcinkowski over to Tosaint Ricketts. The Canadian midfielder made a point-blank finish into an empty net for his second goal of the season.

“Vancouver came out and wanted to press us down the middle, and we played right into the teeth of it,” said Wondolowski on the Whitecaps second half success. “Also, we just weren’t able to connect passes. I think once we did connect a pass, we didn’t move after and give us an option. When we do that, we become stagnant. We lose a lot of possession and a lot of passes that we shouldn’t. That usually feeds into another team’s counterattack. They punished us twice and rightfully so. Then we’re playing catchup. I thought we combined well after that. We just couldn’t hit that final pass.”

The two quick goals by Vancouver shell-shocked San Jose as they were never able to recover the rest of the second half. Their passing was sloppy and rushed which resulted in turnovers. Even with substitutions made at the 71st and 72nd minutes, they could not regain the momentum they had established in the first half.

“I think we had a great first half in which we had the lead. We were interpreting how to play the game. But then we went back to making the same mistakes that were made previously. In five minutes, there was a lack of concentration that the opponent took advantage of. Once the opponent took the lead, I think the momentum in the match shifted. We were not able to find that final pass to create those chances that would give us the tie or win,” Almeyda said.

Despite having a few chances in the final five minutes of the match, San Jose was not able to score the equalizer and were left to contemplate the disappointing result.

Bush only needed to make one save for the victory. Marcinkowski finished with two saves on the evening in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: Both teams had six corner kicks during the match.

Vancouver leads the overall series 9-8-9.

San Jose had its shutout streak snapped at 234 minutes (over 2.5 matches), plus stoppage time.

UP NEXT: The Quakes return home to host Real Salt Lake on Wednesday 10/28 at 7:30pm at Earthquakes Stadium.

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