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No love in PDX: Vancouver Whitecaps 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

Quakes can’t hold onto lead and drop three points.

MLS: San Jose Earthquakes at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes’ woes at Providence Park continued, as their lead evaporated and they lost 2-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS regular season action Saturday.

The game, played in Portland because of travel restrictions to Canada at present, extended San Jose’s winless run in Portland, stretching all the way back to a U.S. Open Cup game in 2011, and a new opponent didn’t change matters.

Matias Almeyda kept the same starting XI from the last game for the Quakes, with Tommy Thompson remaining at left back and Oswaldo Alanís pairing with Florian Jungwirth in central defense.

The Quakes went a goal ahead in the 24th minute, with Cristian Espinoza’s looping cross cushioned in by Carlos Fierro, a very nifty buildup and finish by the visitors.

The teams went into halftime with San Jose leading by that 1-0 scoreline. The first half was quite open but the Earthquakes held a 63-to-37 percent edge in possession and led in basically every team category, which was a good omen.

The second half began with Vancouver pushing and the Quakes a bit sloppy in their passes. They were punished in the 51st minute, with Ali Adnan hitting a free kick from about 30 yards out to beat JT Marcinkowski and tie up the game at 1-1.

It got worse for the Quakes in the 57th minute, when Cristian Dajome made a dribble into the box and hit a shot from a tight angle that Marcinkowski parried with one hand, before Tosaint Ricketts followed up and scored on the rebound to make it 2-1.

A Whitecaps counterattack in the 75th minute led to Lucas Cavallini getting a good look on goal, but his shot was safely collected by Marcinkowski to keep the Earthquakes in the chance as they chased the game.

Almeyda did what he did in the first meeting between these teams this season and threw the kitchen sink off the bench in the final 20 minutes, explicitly going for an equalizer, but to no avail this time.

I think this performance was decent but not great for San Jose. They were sharp in the first half and deserved their lead, but Vancouver came on stronger in the second 45 and really kept the Quakes off their toes. This was the kind of game that could have gone to anybody, but San Jose’s attacking force was really dulled in the second half and they just didn’t get the moment of magic to claw back a result. For it being a winnable game this is a rough one, but it’s a reminder to the Quakes they have to be in their best form in order to get results in this league.

It’s a disappointing result, for sure. San Jose remain above the playoff line but they are just there, with the Whitecaps vaulting above them in the Western Conference standings. With three games left to play, the margin for error is shrinking by the game.

The Earthquakes will be back in action on Wednesday, when they host Real Salt Lake at Earthquakes Stadium. The teams have played once this season, in the MLS is Back Tournament knockout round, with the Quakes posting a thorough 5-2 win, but that game doesn’t count in the regular season standings so this is the one and only meeting in the regular season between the teams. RSL’s most recent game was a scoreless draw against FC Dallas. We’ll see what happens.

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