Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Whitecaps Battle Back Twice To Draw San Jose

While Vancouver’s newest designated player, Mustapha Jarju, made his debut for the Caps it was their original one who made the imprint on the match as Eric Hassli’s brace brought the Caps back twice for a 2-2 draw with San Jose.  The Whitecaps were able to pick up the point despite a shaky performance from a make shift backline missing three starters.  The Earthquakes took the lead at the start of both halves with goals by 2010 MLS golden boot winner Chris Wondolowski but the game was also tied twice with the two goals by Hassli.

The team looked very flat to start the game and it showed quickly on the scoreboard as Chris Wondolowski was able to stay onside and beat Cannon one on one.  As the game progressed the Caps started connecting better with Jarju getting his first opportunity to score in MLS but he sailed the ball just over the bar.  The Whitecaps started getting stronger as the half progressed and were rewarded for it as Shea Salinas sent in Hassli alone and after a few touches the French striker blasted the ball past Busch into the back of the net before halftime.

Despite starting strong in the second, the Caps gave up another goal to Wondolowski as the American striker got a free header on net.  Chiumineto came on for Jarju and made an immediate impact as he released Salinas down the left wing.  Salinas then cut into the box along the end line, drawing the defenders toward him before feeding Hassli for an easy finish to level the game once again.  The remainder of the game saw both teams going for the win with Lenhart and Camilo missing chances in the box while Wondolowski and Koffie both hit the woodwork.

This was a game in which the Whitecaps could have easily won or lost the match as there many chances left on the pitch and the backline had too many breakdowns.  There were three main defenders missing from the trip with DeMerit out with his injury, Harvey on suspension and Rochat remaining in Vancouver due to the birth of his daughter.  Those absences forced Soehn to play Brovsky, who slipped on the second Earthquake goal, at right back. 

However, once the Whitecaps switched to the attack it was their best flow of ball possession and creating chances since the coaching change.  Jarju and Hassli looked dangerous as a pair and will only improve once they develop more chemistry on the pitch.  Camilo started slowly but was back to his dangerous self as the game wore on while his opposite, Salinas, had one of his best games as he set up both goals.  The central midfield pair of Vagenas and Koffie played well off each other and controlled possession which got better when Chiumiento came on as a sub after missing a several matches with an injury.

The game in San Jose was a good building block coming off a strong performance against Manchester City on Monday.  With the single point the Whitecaps guarantee they will not have the worst MLS record which still belongs to the 2001 Tampa Bay Mutiny (14 points).  The club now has an extended break to work in training as they will not play for ten days when they host the Los Angeles Galaxy, without David Beckham, at Empire Field.

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