Kick off. The only point in the game when the possibilities for the night's game are endless; my hope springs eternal. A bright kick off tonight , as I sang along with the Vancouver fans from my sofa for this away game; John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads (modified lyrics I assume). My optimism reigned - perhaps the San Jose Earthquakes would win for the first time in BC Place. That reign lasted just ten minutes when Vancouver's Kekuta Manneh hit the post, and then chipped the rebound into the far side of the net for the first goal of the game.
The Quakes woes increased further when it transpired that Yannick Djaló had aggravated a groin strain sufficiently to end his day's efforts; Alan Gordon replaced the Portuguese forward. The Benfica loanee had sparked last week's victory with his goal against Chivas USA, and had earned his first start in MLS. It was just a question of how he would adjust his game to AstroTurf - the AstroTurf won.
My battered optimism was well and truly dented when Morales blasted a shot just one minute later - a golazo from just outside the box, a shot well worth the yellow card for removing his shirt.
The remainder the first half was difficult to watch, with the Earthquakes in disarray, disrupted after the early substitution and unable to keep possession - physical play from the Whitecaps seemed to push the Earthquakes players off the ball with very little effort. By now, my optimism had deserted me and boarded a flight to Hawaii for recalibration.
There was some respite when Sam Cronin prevented a fourth goal as he backed up Jon Busch with a goal line clearance. In the dying minutes of the first half, a challenge on Alan Gordon resulted in a penalty shot from Chris Wondolowski; his first shot of the game.
The teams went in for their half time orange slices with Jay DeMerit still barking at referee Drew Fisher about the penalty call after the half-time whistle.
I poured a half time Pliny, and Comcast announcer Chris Dangerfield was doing a much better job at maintaining his own optimism, and hoping that the Earthquakes could build on the goal just before half time. I bought into his argument a little more when Jon Busch made his 1000th MLS save - a spectacular stop from a point blank rifled shot from former Santa Clara University striker Erik Hurtado. Would this be a turning point to keep the Quakes in the game?
Maybe. The Earthquakes possession improved (from 44% to 75%) with chances for Wondolowski, and Shea Salinas avoiding his former teammate Steven Beitashour much more effectively. In the 63rd minute Cronin lofted a cross to split the defenders and find Wondo, only for the assistant referee to wave his flag for offside. The Quakes second half effort finally paid off when Wondo scored the second of his brace (and fifth of the season) in the 91st minute.
Once again it was too little too late for the Quakes - first thirty minutes of this game dictated the eventual 3-2 result. The Goonies are done perhaps - their method akin to pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline. It will get you out of a hole a couple of times, but as an approach it has a sub-optimal success rate; the Earthquakes still couldn't pull off that first win in BC Place. Perhaps it was the atmosphere? The Whitecaps fans celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first ever match of the two franchises, but not in style - the 1970s was a decade best forgotten in terms of fashion.
San Jose returns to action on Wednesday, May 7 against the Colorado Rapids at Buck Shaw Stadium, presented by Supercuts. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. PT on CSNBA, 1590 KLIV and 1370 KZSF. I'm optimistic that I'll snag one of the 2,500 foam fingers - after that anything's possible at kick off.
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San Jose Earthquakes (1-3-3, 6 pts.) 2:3 Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-2-4, 13 pts.)
May 3, 2014 - BC Place
Scoring Summary: VAN - Kekuta Manneh (unassisted) 10; VAN - Pedro Morales (penalty) 19; VAN - Pedro Morales (unassisted) 20; SJ - Chris Wondolowski (penalty) 45; SJ - Chris Wondolowski (unassisted) 90+1.
Misconduct Summary: VAN - Pedro Morales (caution) 20; SJ - Alan Gordon (caution) 70;
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Brandon Barklage (Billy Schuler 78), Victor Bernardez, Clarence Goodson, Jordan Stewart, Cordell Cato (Atiba Harris 73), Sam Cronin, JJ Koval, Shea Salinas, Yannick Djalo (Alan Gordon 14), Chris Wondolowski.
SHOTS: 7; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; SAVES: 6; FOULS: 14; CORNER KICKS: 3; OFFSIDES: 1.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - David Ousted, Steven Beitashour, Andy O'Brien, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey, Gershon Koffie, Matias Laba, Sebastian Fernandez (Nicolas Mezquida 69), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Kenny Miller 57), Darren Mattocks (Erik Hurtado 30).
SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 9; SAVES: 2; FOULS: 19; CORNER KICKS: 5; OFFSIDES: 1.