In a match where Vancouver Whitecaps hoped to clinch top spot in the West, and their first Conference crown, they were unable to get the full three points needed against a desperate San Jose Earthquakes side, and were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw, setting up a first against second clash for all the marbles next week in Portland.
A first half goal by Yordy Reyna looked like it was going to be enough until Valeri Qazaishvili scored with 13 minutes to go, to break Vancouver hearts and revitalise San Jose’s own quest for a first playoff place in five years.
Carl Robinson made some changes to the backline, in a possible indication as to his thinking for the starting line up heading into the playoffs. Marcel de Jong came in for Jordan Harvey at left back, with Stefan Marinovic taking over the goalkeeping duties from long time first choice, David Ousted.
San Jose came out fast, forcing Marinovic to save low at his near post from Danny Hoesen in the first minute.
The ‘Caps had their first chance in the 26th minute when the ball was crossed through the box where Brek Shea was robbed by an outreaching Andrew Tarbell. The first of many important plays by the Quakes keeper over the afternoon.
Two minutes later they would capitalise on a similar play when Jake Nerwinski sent in a cross along the deck that was finished easily by Yordy Reyna. 1-0 Vancouver and the champagne was getting put on ice.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) October 16, 2017
The ‘Caps almost doubled their lead in the opening minutes of the second half when they were able to break out, but Tarbell was able to get his hand to a Fredy Montero shot and deny the goal.
Tarbell would stop Montero once again in the 60th minute when the striker blasted a shot from outside the box that the keeper dove for and just got his hand to.
Four minutes later, on another counterattack, Montero was setup at the edge of the box but his shot was easily collected by Tarbell.
Those missed chances would come back to haunt the home side in the 76th minute when Chris Wondolowski sent Qazaishvili in on goal and the Georgian beat Marinovic to even the match, lifting San Jose from 8th to 6th in the standings in one fell swoop.
Cool. Calm. Collected.
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) October 16, 2017
Marinovic would need to come up big a couple of minutes of later when Qazaishvili’s shot from outside the box was parried over the bar.
Reyna almost propelled the ‘Caps back into the lead in the final five minutes as he found himself alone in the box but his shot was knocked away by Tarbell.
The Whitecaps would have to settle for the draw, keeping them in the top spot of the West but reducing their lead to just two points over Portland and Seattle, failing to clinch not only the Conference title but a first round bye.
Their fate will be decided in the final week as they head down the I5 and face Cascadian rival Portland Timbers. Vancouver can’t finish worse than third in the West now, but to lose out on a first round bye this late on would certainly be a confidence shaker.
San Jose head home with their playoff destiny in their own hands, hosting Minnesota United as they look to claim a postseason berth for the first time since 2012.
Very much all still to play for.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes
ATT: 22,120 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinovic; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Marcel de Jong; Aly Ghazal, Tony Tchani; Cristian Techera (Alphonso Davies 71), Yordy Reyna, Brek Shea; Fredy Montero (Erik Hurtado 85) [Substitutes not used: David Ousted, Jordan Harvey, Andrew Jacobson, Nicolás Mezquida, Bernie Ibini]
SAN JOSE: Andrew Tarbell; Kofi Sarkodie, Victor Bernardez, Florian Jungwirth, Shea Salinas; Jahmir Hyka, Darwin Ceren, Anibal Godoy, Valeri Qazaishvili (Tommy Thompson 88); Chris Wondolowski, Danny Hoesen [Substitutes not used: David Bingham, Francois Affolter, Jackson Yueill, Andres Imperiale, Marco Urena, Quincy Amarikwa]
Thoughts on the match:
“I thought we were in total control, and I thought that a little mistake or if we switched off it might cost us, and it certainly did. We know they have good players. They had balls in certain areas, but they didn’t really hurt us, but one little bit of luck for them. Obviously it went through Timmy [Tim Parker]’s legs and we switched off, and they equalized in the game which we should have put to bed. So we’ve got to accept it. We’re disappointed, because it was an opportunity for us to win at home again, but we’ll take the point and move on.”
On the mood in the locker room:
“Disappointed. It shows how far we’ve come that we are disappointed. We’re sitting at the top of the table, and we’re disappointed because we haven’t been able to find three points at home, but we need to play better as well.”
On Stefan Marinovic making a couple of spectacular saves:
“He was excellent. He was excellent two games ago as well. As I’ve said I’ll pick the team and the players based upon who deserves to play, or who’s in form. David has played the majority of games, Stefan has come in and he’s been absolutely brilliant, and again he was brilliant today.”
On the pressure to get a result in Portland on the final weekend:
“Listen, there’s no pressure on us. We’re at the top of the table and everyone’s trying to knock us down, which is fine. But we’re happy we’re there. We’d prefer to be there than fifth or sixth, and hanging on to our playoff lives. We’ve been in the playoffs for three games. We know we’ve got to go to Portland, difficult place to go to. They’re a good team, we know that. It should be a good game, it’s all set up nicely.”
On the mood in the locker room:
“Disappointed because we wanted to win obviously. I think today we created a lot of chances, and we could have scored more goals. But sometimes it happens. Now we have to think of Portland. We still fight until the end, and now it’s a final in Portland to stay in the first spot.”
On feeling in control before they scored:
“I think we controlled the majority of the game. They didn’t have a lot of chances, or clear chances. But they got one chance and they scored, so now we’ll just try to keep our first sport in Portland, and obviously we want to win over there.”
On playing in Portland to close the season:
“It’s nice, playing in that atmosphere. Everybody wants to play like that. It’s going to be a great battle, tough, and it’s one final [match] over there.”
Thoughts on the match:
“Definitely the feeling in the change room after the game is huge disappointment. We had a chance today to put the conference to rest and come first place. I think we felt like we let ourselves down today. We didn’t take our chances [and] conceded a soft goal where we felt like honestly during the game that they weren’t really going to cause us any trouble. So it’s a shame.”
On how he felt in his first home start:
“A home start is always special, it’s a little bit different when you play at home for the first time because I obviously played three games away now. Definitely a totally different atmosphere, you’re going to dominate the game probably a bit more at home than you would away. That was great, and unfortunately I wish I could have pulled out maybe a worldy for the first goal to help the team, but that didn’t happen. As a keeper in any type of play, you have to bounce back from adversity of disappointment really quickly, and I think I did that.”
On what he saw on his huge save two minutes after conceding:
“I don’t know, I haven’t really thought about it too much to be honest. I haven’t watched it again or anything. I sometimes feel like it’s a standard save, because that’s my job right, to save that from going in the goal.”
On the finale in Portland:
“No matter what, the boys will be going out to Portland to win. I personally don’t care if it’s away and I think that the team cares if it’s away. It’s going to be about a win. We definitely want to secure that top of the table place, and not leave it to any of the other teams to decide our fate for us, we want to do it ourselves.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES
Thoughts on the match:
“It was a big goal for us, we definitely needed that, it had big implications for sure. But I don’t think it was against the run of play. I think for large stretches of the game we showed some really good patience, and we just lacked that final run, that final pass. On that particular play it was good to see that come off; I think it was Wondo with the assist and Vako with the goal. Really good play there to finally breakthrough. Otherwise, really disciplined Vancouver team.”
On the character to get a point when it mattered after struggling on the road this season:
“It says a lot. First and foremost, these guys knew what was on the line tonight, and they didn’t run away from it, they ran right to it and took on the challenge head on, and really dug in. It was a good hard fought result here in a tough place to play against obviously the best team in the West as it stands now.”
On the finale against Minnesota:
“I think you’ve got to approach it the same way we have this game, the same way we did against Portland last game. It’s running towards these games and understanding the magnitude of the situation, and wanting that on our shoulders. I think that’s what this group and this locker room wants. They want this challenge, they want this opportunity. They want to have it in their hands, and I think these are the games these guys definitely look forward to playing in.”
Thoughts on the result:
“It was a big one. Hopefully it keeps propelling us and we use it as a catalyst to keep us going this year. It gives us a big game next weekend.”
On the patience while trailing:
“I think that we had a belief in the locker room, and I think the first 30 minutes I thought we came out well and came out with a strong start. They did a great job coming down on the counter and getting that goal, a well-executed goal. To be honest, a couple games in the past a month or two ago, we would have put our heads down and it could have gotten ugly. But we stayed with it, kind of regrouped at halftime, and we kept saying that we have to stay the course. Keep trying to get opportunities and finish them when we do.”
On approaching the final match against Minnesota:
“To be honest we kind of came in this game, and to a man we’re a bit disappointed coming off with a tie. And then we saw the other results, and we’ll take. It’s kind of a funny thing. We’ll come out [next weekend] and we just have to take care of our business. We win, we’re in. So we know that, and that’s how we’re going to look at it.”
Thoughts on his own performance:
“I’m just happy to help the team. They got away from us in transition, and I was just happy to make a few stops to keep us in it.”
On the feeling heading into next week’s final match:
“We’re just ready for a good week of training, and just all preparation for next weekend. The locker room is a tight knit group. We’ve been battling this whole season, and we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing, keep battling, and be ready for next weekend.”
On the ability to get in and have a good playoff run:
“We have the ability for sure. It’s a matter of clicking and having the confidence as a team. We’re on the upswing, and I can’t stress enough how hard this group works. We’re going to stick to that and just keep going.”