It looked as though the Whitecaps felt like they were still on the road as their performance matched the last couple of away games in a 2-1 defeat to the visiting San Jose Earthquakes, extending their losing streak to three matches and making it one win in their last eight MLS matches.
After coming close to breaking through in the 12th minute when a Fatai Alashe header crashed off the ‘Caps bar, the Quakes scored a couple minutes later when Quincy Amarikwa’s header was caught by David Ousted but was judged to have been taken over the line as he fell with the ball, giving San Jose an early lead.
The ‘Caps argued that the ball was stopped on the goal-line and kicked in from Ousted’s hand but replays showed he clearly fell behind the line with the ball. But overall it was a shambles of a goal to give up, with Amarikwa allowed a free header when Matias Laba seemed to duck and make no effort to go for the ball in from a corner. More defensive disaster for a Vancouver side that has lot all shape and authority.
The 20th minute saw the Whitecaps get their first attempt on goal and it wasn’t until about five minutes into the second half when they would get their first shot on target. For a game that was a close to a must-win as you will get at this stage of the season, that said it all, and they could easily have been two or three goals down by half time.
Those initial 15 minutes of the second half saw Vancouver look a little more dangerous, but the lack of finish was punished when Alberto Quintero made a clean run through the midfield, with Laba again found lacking, setting up Simon Dawkins for the eventual winner.
That already looked game over and it never felt like Vancouver had any way back. It took until deep into injury time for the ‘Caps to break a 417 minute goalless streak when Nicolas Mezquida converted a corner, heading in a consolation goal that meant nothing but further frustration as to why that danger hadn’t been seen in the previous 93 minutes.
Vancouver drops another spot in the Western Conference with the loss, as San Jose leaps over them into 7th spot getting their first win on the road this season and first ever MLS win in Vancouver.
The Whitecaps will head back on the road to face Sporting Kansas City next Saturday before returning home three day later to take on the same club in the CCL.
Where they go now in terms of direction and form for the remainder of the season is anyone’s guess. Carl Robinson said post match they the ‘Caps “need to be better”. The way it’s looked the past few months, what they need is a mass clear out.
FINAL SCORE: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS 1 – 2 SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
ATT: 22,120 (official sell-out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Tim Parker, David Edgar, Kendall Waston, Marcel de Jong (Alphonso Davies 66); Matías Laba (Fraser Aird 74), Pedro Morales; Christian Bolaños, Nicolás Mezquida, Giles Barnes; Masato Kudo (Blas Pérez 66) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Cristian Techera, Andrew Jacobson, Erik Hurtado]
SAN JOSE: David Bingham; Cordell Cato, Marvell Wynne, Victor Bernardez, Jordan Stewart; Alberto Quintero (Shea Salinas 87), Fatai Alashe (Darwin Ceren 46), Anibal Godoy, Simon Dawkins; Chris Wondolowski, Quincy Amarikwa (Chad Barrett 83) [Substitutes not used: Andrew Tarbell, Henok Goitom, Shaun Francis, Andres Imperiale]
On tonight’s loss:
The result disappoints me. It’s a very big game against a conference rival. It gave us a mountain to climb giving up the early goal. I won’t fault the guys for passion and determination. We try to win the game of football. Sometimes when it goes against you, it does go against you. At the moment, it’s going against us. Do we have to be better? of course, we do. It’s my responsibility for the guys to perform, and at the moment, they’re not performing. We need to be better.”
On trying to get better:
“We need to be better. We need to be better in our roles, individually, and collectively. It wasn’t a great performance today but we still had a number of chances. If we don’t hit our target, if we don’t take our chances, we don’t win games of football. Having said that, we conceded two bad goals as well, which has been a common theme this year. It is what it is. All we got to do is get back to work. We have the weekend off. We’ve given ourselves more of a mountain to climb. We need to be better? Yes, 100 per cent.”
On this season’s performances at home:
“I’m not sure. If I had the answer, we would win every game at home. We had been very good up to this season. It’s not become the fortress we like for teams that come in to play here. We showed that today against San Jose. We need to change that. It’s not going to happen from just saying it. We need to collectively do it. We haven’t performed in the last couple of games. We have to accept it and take responsibility for it and move on. ”
On selecting players to perform:
“We try to pick players who deserve to play. Nico Mezquida is an example and he deserves to play. He played very well today and got a goal in the last minute. I will look at a number of things, there are players that are itching to play. I left out some players today that probably shouldn’t have been left out. Some of the guys took the chance, some didn’t. I’ll watch it again over the weekend. We’ll regroup again on Tuesday. Every game is a cup final, we know that now.”
On moving on from tonight’s loss:
“Football is a funny game. You just got to get back to work. That game is gone, we move on. Do we need to address some issues? Yes, we do. We know that. It’s not been one or two games, it’s been a number of games this season. The group of players I got is the group of players that are with me until the end of the year. I will reassess it then but as I said, individually and collectively, we haven’t been good enough this year.”
On what it will take to get into the playoffs:
“I’m just trying to get one win to start with. It’s probably going to take 45 to 48 points, I believe. We lost three points today at home to a rival. Everyone’s playing everyone. We can concentrate on ourselves, we have to. If we start scoreboard-watching and rely on that, it can bite us on the bum. We won’t do that. We need five or six wins out of nine games. We don’t get them, we probably don’t get to the playoffs. That’s a fair thing to say.”
On the upcoming matches:
“All my players will get the chance to play. That’s one thing we do during the MLS season. You have to have a big squad and they get their opportunities. I don’t think enough players this year have taken their opportunities when given to them. When we have the Champions League game, we play on Saturday and then on Tuesday, everyone’s going to get to play. Who deserves to play will play now. It’s pretty simple, we need to pick up results whatever competition it’s in.”
On Fraser Aird’s performance:
“He’s only been training two or three weeks, to be fair, since his injury and since the personal issues that he had. I think we saw today that when he comes on, he’s bright and lively. He’s knocking on my door, wondering why he’s not going to play. He’ll be fighting to get a place to get in next week. We concede two goals in every game. It’s not just the right back that’s been an issue this year.”
On sticking together:
There have been a number of issues, we know that. As soon as you fix one, another one seems to appear. We got to stick together. We got to brush everything down. We can’t lose focus. It turns very quickly. We all feel down and we feel sad. When you’re sad and you’re down, confidence is low. Everyone wants to say nasty things and bad things about you and it makes you feel worse. Welcome to professional sports. You’re in it for a reason. You’re in it not only to have the highs, but also the lows. When you have the lows, you find out about yourself. That’s important. The players are a good bunch of lads in there. But we will rebound, make no doubt about that. I just don’t know when. Hopefully, it’s next week.”
On free agency:
“I got players on the squad that want to play. You see Alphonso [Davies] come on today. Maybe, he’ll get starts. That’s one thing we’ll look into. We’re always looking. Free agents, obviously, the window is still open. What I won’t do is put the club at risk just for a desperate signing. There’s no need for that whatsoever. We’re looking on a daily basis. If it arises and it’s the right feel, in the short- and medium-term, then I will do it. If it doesn’t, then you can just say that we need a free agent. That’s the way it is. Anything to add to this group, we’re always looking.”
On tonight’s loss:
“It’s obviously disappointing to get beat. I think overall, we put a performance together that deserved more from the game. We didn’t feel under too much threat at the back. It’s a shame to concede two.”
On how to turn things around:
“You know what, we just have to stick together. We’re working hard every day at training. We stick together as a team and as a group, we just have to dig in.”
On whether the final nine matches are like playoff games:
“100 per cent. It’s the old cliché, we are taking it one game at a time. Tonight was another game. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get result, but we just have to dust ourselves off, work hard again this week, and be ready for Kansas.”
On tonight’s result:
“We’re very disappointed. This moment we have a difficult situation. We tried, we fought, and sometimes we played well. That’s part of football. We have to learn about that. In some games, we make some mistakes that cost the games. We stay together. We have nine games left so I hope we can win, get some confidence, and go through to the playoffs.”
On the final nine matches:
“We have to keep going. We can’t put ourselves down. We have to improve more. We have to train more, we have to be more ready, we have to do a lot of things. We need something. We have to keep fighting. I hope people saw today that today we tried and played good, but that’s football. We also need some luck. We had some bad luck on the first goal, but that’s how it is..”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
On whether he was delighted with the performance:
“Yes. It helped to get the early goal, I think it gave us a little bit of belief and some confidence. I thought we played well, broke well, created some good chances. Obviously, we relied on David Bingham at times tonight, he pulled us out of some tough situations. It’s our first road win of the year. I think it’s the first time the Quakes have won in Vancouver, which is always a tough place to play. So to sit here and come out with three points and watch the way the team played, really happy and looking forward to the next one.”
On what his game plan was tonight and why it worked so well:
“Well, I wouldn’t give myself that much credit. No, it was good to get a goal off a set piece. I thought Quincy Amarikwa had a real strong game, up until the substitution and really held the ball up well for us. When he does that, he brings people into play. I thought we defended their set pieces pretty well until the very end. But overall, I just thought the guys, our possession was good, our movement was good, we created some good chances. I thought the amount of work we put in tonight was well deserved to get the win.”
On what they need to do to get into playoff position:
“We’re at seven wins. Who knows what number it is because a couple of teams in the West are running away with it, so we’re all kind of looking for maybe four, five, and six. Maybe four is a bit of a stretch because LA is quite high up. It is always our intent to get road wins. We didn’t want to come in with no road wins this late in the season, it’s just the way it went. But we did pick up a good number of draws on the road, which gave us, you know, some points and doesn’t let other teams get three, especially the conference games. For us, it’s just a matter of staying healthy. We play three games in the next eight- to ten-day period, so it’s going to be difficult. We have two games at home, hopefully we can get that and go to Columbus with some confidence.”
On tonight’s win:
“Most important thing, we needed to get those three points to be sitting better on the table and we were hoping to do that tonight. There are a few things we need to work on, but overall it was a great win for us.”
On winning in Vancouver for the first time:
“It’s great, I don’t think it could have come at a better time for us too, so that’s the main thing for us right now, we needed to come away with some points on the road games and at home we got to hold strong like we’ve been doing.”
On dealing with Nicolas Mezquida:
“Yeah, their top four are extremely talented and I knew that coming in, it doesn’t matter if you take one away, another one pops up. So the main thing for us is to force them into a situation where it didn’t suit them the best and we didn’t want to give them too many easy chances and we did a pretty good job of doing that tonight, one little lapse. But most important thing like I said is the three points on the road.”
On conceding the late goal:
“No, I hate giving up goals and I especially don’t like it when they’re given up in the last minutes of the game, that’s something we need to tidy up on. If we can tidy up on that, we’re an extremely good team and people underestimate us and we like it like that”
What do you think the win does for your playoff hopes now?
“It’s a good win on the road, it’s even better it’s a Western Conference opponent. There’s so much soccer to be played for the rest of the year, so this is a great win but at the end of the day we have a lot of games left and we have to keep improving to make it a very competitive conference.”
On tonight’s win:
“It’s good to get the win. It gives us confidence going into the last games. Now, we got that away win. We can go to other places now and do the same thing.”
On the difference tonight:
“We passed the ball and moved well. When we do that, we’re a good team. We’ve shown that this season in glimpses. We need to find that consistency again. This is a good start and hopefully we win next week as well.”