After sputtering down the stretch of the regular season, Vancouver Whitecaps made history on Wednesday night, getting their first ever MLS playoff victory, destroying San Jose Earthquakes 5-0.
A first half goal by Fredy Montero broke the ice with a second half rout coming from Christian Techera, Kendall Waston, and a brace by sub Nicolas Mezquida.
Stefan Marinovic would make five saves, a couple of the spectacular variety, to earn the clean sheet, bouncing back from a mixed performance in Portland at the weekend to show why Robinson and his coaching staff have faith in the Kiwi to be their number one going forward.
It was a quick start for both teams, with Christian Bolanos redirecting a Marcel de Jong shot just wide of the net in the opening minute.
Moments later Marinovic had to come with a huge stop, denying a curling free kick by Anibal Godoy heading for the top corner.
After a number of half chances Vancouver would breakthrough in the 33rd minute when Waston headed a corner towards the post where Montero was waiting to redirect with his own head to put the ‘Caps ahead.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 26, 2017
The ‘Caps almost doubled their lead minutes later when in the second phase of the corner the ball found its way to Marcel de Jong outside the box, but his blast was smothered by Andrew Tarbell.
San Jose came out strong after the break with a couple of chances from Chris Wondolowski, the first forcing Marinovic to make a diving stop while the second was directed right at the keeper.
Ten minutes into the second half Danny Hoesen missed on a free kick from about twenty yards out, as it sailed a few feet over the bar.
That was to be as good as it got for San Jose and the misses by the Earthquakes would prove costly minutes later when Techera converted a free kick from 30 yards out into the top corner, putting the ‘Caps up by two, and hitting one of the goals of the season.
What. A. Strike!
THAT. CURVE. 🌈
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 26, 2017
After another couple of missed attempts by the visitors, the Whitecaps extended their lead to three from the second phase of a corner, with Waston tapping in the ball from a yard out after Tim Parker cut the ball back in front of an empty net from the byeline.
The goals kept coming and second half sub Nicolas Mezquida scored twice within two minutes, first scoring on a shot from inside the box and then converting a cross from Brek Shea, completing the rout for the rampant Whitecaps.
With the victory, the Caps now advance to the Conference semi-final where they will take on Cascadian rivals Seattle Sounders in the first leg on Sunday at BC Place.
Further history awaits.
FINAL SCORE: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 5 (FIVE) – 0 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinovic; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Marcel de Jong; Aly Ghazal, Tony Tchani (Andrew Jacobson 84); Cristian Techera (Brek Shea 75), Yordy Reyna (Nicolás Mezquida 68), Christian Bolaños; Fredy Montero [Substitutes not used: David Ousted, Jordan Harvey, Bernie Ibini, Alphonso Davies]
SAN JOSE: Andrew Tarbell; Kofi Sarkodie (Quincy Amarikwa 74), Victor Bernárdez, Florian Jungwirth, Shea Salinas; Anibal Godoy, Darwin Ceren; Tommy Thompson (Marco Ureña 62), Chris Wondolowski, Valeri Qazaishvili (Jackson Yueill 86); Danny Hoesen [Substitutes not used: David Bingham, Francois Affolter, Cordell Cato, Andrés Imperiale]
On responding from a tough end to the regular season:
“The last three weeks with tough difficult away games has been difficult, and we didn’t take care of business at home two weeks ago against a very good San Jose team, and it’d come back to bite us on the back side unfortunately. But I made the guys aware that we get a second chance because we’re in the playoffs, but let’s not let this one slip, and we didn’t today. We’ve done today what we should have done two weeks ago against a very good team.”
On what it means to get the club’s very first MLS playoff win:
“As I’ve said to you all the time, I like proving people wrong. Football’s there for records to be broken and we’ve broke a few since I’ve been here. Before I’d come here, there were people breaking records, and since I’ve come there’s been more records broken. So that’s what you have to do. But I’m delighted for everyone involved with the football club, and everyone involved with the city, because we needed a little bit of success. We got a little bit of success today, but that’s all it is. It sets us up nicely for a two-legged playoff game against our rivals up the road, which we’ll really look forward to. If we’re going to go further, we’ve got to beat the champs, which is no easy feat.”
On if winning 5-0 helps momentum going forward rather than a close win:
“Yes, but a win is a win, and I wouldn’t have minded how we would have won the game today. I think it puts the icing on the cake that you win a one-legged playoff game at home in front of your supporters who were magnificent all night. It’s not easy coming out on a Wednesday night, I know that. But you saw what it meant to the players and the club today that we were so determined to get that first playoff win, and we did. And did we do it in style? Yeah we probably did, which makes it all the more special. But I’m sure you’ll be saying that Sunday now needs to be the same again, and every football game is different. We’ll enjoy it tonight, we’ll be in tomorrow morning, the boys are in to recover tomorrow as we prepare for the next stage.”
On getting goals again from set pieces:
“If you work hard at things, you get your rewards. We’ve been very successful this year on set pieces. We’ve got the takers, the deliverers of the ball, and we’ve also got obviously the people that can get on the end of things. But anyone who comes by our training sees the amount of work we spend on it every day in training. And that’s not just in football, it’s in life. The more hard work you put in, the more rewards you get out of it. I think we’ve got our rewards this season, and we got our rewards tonight.”
On a nervy start:
“I knew you’d pick up something negative from a 5-0 victory at home in front of our fans. It’s brilliant. No, we were super, super confident from the first minute of the game. Listen we started the first two minutes well. We had our fair share of chances. They’re a good team. Whoever you play in this league, the parity is so close that you can have periods of games where, obviously they had a brief period in the first half. We got the first goal, which was always crucial. I said, I don’t want to live at 1-0 after halftime. We need to score a second goal. And that was drummed into them. Obviously we get the second, and it’s like when you wait for a bus, you wait ages and then two, three, four come along in the same place. That’s what happened.”
On facing a Dempseyless Seattle next:
“I’m sure they’ll bring in another top player. They have top player, after top player, which is good. Listen, we’re playing against the champs. We know we’re going to be underdogs. I like the underdog role. We’ve played them three times this year, I’m sure we’re sick of the sight of each other. Which is good. I’m sure there’ll be emotions, and tackles, and cards, and football, and goals, and penalties. Hopefully from my side. You always get those things with derby games. The focus today was try and get through this round and then go and have a good two-legged series against our rivals.”
On scoring his first playoff goal:
“It means a lot. Obviously, this was a different game, the atmosphere was amazing. Thanks to all the fans who came to support us. We felt that energy and of course I was happy to score the first goal to open the game.”
On relief to get the opener:
“Yeah, I was trying to get into space. We put the energy this game required, and at the end of the corner kick Kendall headed, I was there back post by myself and I just scored that one.”
On being on a team that works this hard on set pieces:
“Honestly this is something unique we should keep believing we can hurt other teams with, this weapon, and hopefully on Sunday we’re going to be the same.”
On facing Seattle in two legs:
“It’s going to be a hard game, but we’re going to use this one as motivation because we know in these two series games if you can score a few goals you can go to the next one waiting for one result. Goals are going to be valuable in this series.”
On what ‘Caps can take from the recent 3-0 loss down in Seattle:
“When you play against a good team, you cannot make mistakes. All these details, we need to get better. [Against San Jose] we proved that we can score goals. I’m just happy that this result is going to give us more confidence to play against one of the best teams in the league.”
MARCEL DE JONG
On winning the club’s first playoff game:
“I didn’t know it, but we’d never won a playoff game. But the most important thing is to win, go on to the next round. As we said before the game, it’s win or go home, and we’re not ready to go home.”
On getting an address from Matias Laba before the match:
“Everybody obviously knows what happened with Mati and everybody feels bad for him. He was away in Argentina to recover and had his surgery. It was special for him and nobody knew that he was coming today, so it was also a surprise for us. But it touched us all and it’s nice with his injury and his focus that he’s still committed to come over and help us out and speak to us.”
On if he expected this offensive explosion:
“No but I knew that we were capable of this, and last time we played them two weeks ago we should have scored more goals. We didn’t do that and we got punished. Today everything went our way and we punished them.”
Thoughts on the performance:
“It was one of our best games I think we’ve had all season. We didn’t let in any goals, and we scored a bunch. You can’t really ask for more than that.
On Matias Laba’s pre-game speech:
“It meant a lot that he flew back for the game. That was huge. We didn’t know that he was going to come. We walked in and we see him, he’s got that smile on. He just said that it’s about family, that’s what we’re doing. We’re together and he’s going to be here for us.”
On winning the club’s first playoff game:
“We weren’t thinking about that. We were just thinking about how we played them last game and what we can do better, and I think we came out playing free. That’s kind of when we play our best football.”
On the importance of the win for the city:
“It’s huge, it’s awesome. It’s great to be a part of that, it’s great to be a part of history, and hopefully we can keep on building off of that.”
On if BC Place was louder today:
“The fans brought it. That was our extra man out there tonight. It was great, great to see them yelling and screaming, jumping around. It was awesome.”
On if he’s had this much fun in a big game before:
“Probably not. Usually when I’ve played in big games, they’ve been much tighter than that. It was fun to watch towards the end as the boys were coming together and score the fourth and the fifth goal. It was good, it was good fun.”
On a few tense minutes at the start:
“I felt like we had control of the game through the whole 90 minutes. I didn’t really have a feeling like they were going to score, and we were solid at the back. Same kind of feeling last time we played them, except this time we took our chances and score five goals, which we should have two weeks ago.”
On knowing what this result means to this city:
“I definitely do. It’s been the talk of the boys. They wanted to make history and I wanted to be a part of that if I got the chance. I’m really happy for the boys and the city, we did make history today.”
On his early free kick save settling his nerves:
“Not really. It was pretty standard. I was pretty calm going into the match and throughout the match.”
On the set pieces:
“The boys have just got it in them. They practice set pieces and free kicks as well. Finally one went in today, so that was good. Kendall’s a machine, he’s hard to stop. It’s great to have that weapon on your team.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
On tonight’s result:
“Tough one obviously, it didn’t go the way we hoped. Tough, you know the first three goals all on set pieces, and the second two were us pushing pretty darn aggressively to get back in the game and it happens at times.”
On the second half:
“Goals change games. We figured we’d have the ball this game, and I thought we did have the ball this game. Vancouver is really good at a couple aspects of the game, one of them is set pieces. They do a lot of stuff in their offense involving set pieces, so that was obviously in my opinion a big factor in tonight’s first three goals, [which] were a result of that.”
On the counter from Vancouver:
“I don’t think they hurt us on the counter, expect when we were down three nothing and going for it, and then obviously we had two less guys back there and they have space and openings to get at us. I thought in the first half they didn’t hurt us on the counter. We talked about that, and in my opinion we did a decent job of taking out that part of the game. We also talked about set pieces as being a huge key as well and that was really our achilles heel tonight.”
On the second half:
“I think they beat us where they’re strongest, set pieces. They had three set piece goals, and the last two we’re flying guys forward and they catch us on the counter, which is their other strength. I think tonight is a difficult night to swallow. We knew they were good on set pieces and that’s exactly where they beat us, so it’s tough to take, it’s tough to end your season like that.”
On the confidence level coming in:
“We’ve been playing really well, even seven days ago playing here we played a really good game. At halftime we’re down 1-0, the exact place we were in seven days ago, and we felt like we could snag one, and that didn’t happen.”
On the message from the coach at halftime:
“The message was keep doing what we were doing. Obviously, they scored on a set piece so we’ve got to tighten that up. We had possession of the ball, we were moving it, we just couldn’t seem to find that final pass, that final shot. Once they score the second goal on the set piece, we push more guys forward, and then you’re just trying to get goals, and they got us on the counter.”