Whitecaps Secure Crucial Win Against San Jose!

by Michael Martinez

Image via MLS

Image via MLS

For both teams tonight, this was a crucial match to earn all three points. Both San Jose Earthquakes and the Vancouver Whitecaps are just barely grasping on the line for the playoffs in an already difficult Western Conference.  What a thrilling match this turned out to be! The Whitecaps came back from behind with two second half goals to secure the dub! This put them just above San Jose, who bested them last time in California. With goals coming from a brilliant Adnan free-kick and then Tosaint Ricketts to finish it off. 


Vancouver Whitecaps: 4-4-2

A few note regarding the starting XI for VWFC tonight:

  • Bikel replaces Baldi in the midfield

  • Ricketts replaces Teibert on the wing, playing out of position

  • Dajome takes Teiberts Left Wing spot as Ricketts takes the right

  • The start of the last 4 remaining fixtures of the regular season

San Jose Earthquakes: 4-1-4-1

Match Stats

VWFC Man of the Match: Cristian Dájome

Referee: Marcos de Oliveira

Scoring Summary

24′ – SJ – Carlos Fierro (assisted by Cristian Espinoza)

51′ – VAN – Ali Adnan

57′ – VAN – Tosaint Ricketts (assisted by Christian Dajome)


Possession: VAN 38.7% – SJ 61.3%

Shots: VAN 9 – SJ 10

Shots on Goal: VAN 4 – SJ 2

Saves: VAN 1 – SJ 2

Fouls: VAN 17 – SJ 7

Offsides: VAN 0 – SJ 0

Corners: VAN 6 – SJ 6


82′ – SJ– Marcos Lopez (yellow)

90’+1′ – VAN – Russell Teibert (yellow)

90’+3′ – VAN – Leonard Owusu (yellow)

Match Review

The Whitecaps win! After a tough loss last week to bottom of the table, LA Galaxy, the boys rallied behind two second half goals from Adnan and Ricketts. In this crucial Western Conference match, both teams needed to walk away with all three points to secure themselves a spot in the playoffs. This win is a huge boost for the teams playoff hopes. Now let’s get into the exciting stuff, THE GOALS. 

San Jose took control of the game early and looked very dangerous on the attack. In typical Whitecaps fashion, the boys  conceded the match’s first goal, which was pretty brutal defensively to be fair. The goal came from the Earthquakes in the 24th minute from Fierro. 

The defensive breakdown began down the left side with Ali Adnan, who was a bit out of position, pushing up the field too much before being outrun by Christian Espinoza. While Adnan should have positioned himself better, the glaring worry came on the finish. Nerwinski was nowhere to be found when a wide open Carlos Fierro volleyed an easy shot past Evan Bush. 

Despite a slightly disappointing first half, the Whitecaps stayed resilient as they would overturn the result with a pair of scores in a six-minute span early into the second half.

The first came from an Adnan laser off a free kick from long distance in the 51st minute.

With the momentum shifting, Cristian Dájome kept the pressure on the Quakes defense with an attacking run down the left side, burning USMNT regular, Nick Lima. Their keeper got a touch on the initial shot but was helpless against Ricketts’ put back goal. Perfect positioning and run from Ricketts, who nets his second goal of the season. 

As the second half drew to its final moments, the already scary Whitecaps defense looked as though it would concede late again, similar to last week against  LA. Galaxy. However, after a few late substitutes, along with crafty shit housery, the Whitecaps held on to win 2-1. This also puts them two slots above the line into 7th place. 

Post Match Thoughts

With a bit of luck, and a lot of fight, the Whitecaps now sit in seventh place in the Western Conference, one spot on Earthquakes. Both Salt Lake and Houston, both drew their matches earlier on Saturday, giving the boys  a leg up heading into these last 3 matches. However, the team to keep an eye on is the Colorado Rapids. Due to COVID related issues, they were forced away from the pitch for nearly a month due. Colorado lost 4-0 in their first match back,  but the amount of games they have in hand, SIX,  could flip the conference on its head if they manage to go on a solid run. 

Now onto the defensive shape for the match… 

The problem on the goal is two-fold: Nerwinski had to be more accountable for the defensive positioning of the centre backs, but our more zonal marking system also left him a bit lost as to where he needed to be. A more zonal defensive shape can be beneficial, however, if the player is not in the correct areas, the whole shape falls apart. The system appeared to be a problem for the Whitecaps all night, but fortunately, San Jose could only capitalize on the one goal. 

While I think that playing a zone style defense can be very beneficial, especially combined with a high press, it requires the correct instructions. Especially from the fullbacks and central midfielders. Yes you can win the battle in the midfield, but then if you’re caught out, then it will be a bit easy to counter attack. Just like the goal San Jose scored. MDS is finally sorting things out, but I hope he can keep it going against some of the toughest opponents in the West. 

While the Whitecaps may have scrapped out a win today, they have a very tough outing these next three matches. Sounders, Timbers, then lastly LA Galaxy. Luckily they do not have to travel as they are staying put in Portland for the remainder of the regular season, and hopefully the playoffs as well! 

Here’s a little something to help brighten the mood as well!

Let’s hope the boys can keep their match fitness going into their next match against the league leaders, Seattle Sounders back at Providence Park on Tuesday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. PT live on TSN and ESPN +

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