The Vancouver Whitecaps and San Jose Earthquakes are both celebrating 50th anniversaries. Both clubs were born in 1974 and played their first game against each other on May 5, 1974. That was a 2-1 Earthquakes win after a penalty shootout at Empire Stadium. If you are old enough to remember, that game might feel like yesterday for you.

But Saturday’s game marked another chapter for both these historic clubs. Vancouver and San Jose were never rivals but games between these two usually were entertaining. Both the Whitecaps and Earthquakes were looking for their first win of 2024.

Unlike last year, the Whitecaps got their first win in just their second game of the season. In 2023, they didn’t get win number one until April 1. They also got their first road win of the season in their first match away from BC Place. Last year, they didn’t win on the road until June 24 at LAFC.

This game makes any Whitecaps fan say, hell yeah baby.

What we learned from the first half

Unlike last week against Charlotte, the Whitecaps were not suffocating. They handled the Earthquakes press and counters quite well. It did help that the Quakes did not beat the first man on two or three of their five corners and Jeremy Ebobisse and Cristian Espinoza looked quiet.

The Earthquakes’ final third play was lacking. Andres Cubas and Pedro Vite in particular were doing a good job of clogging the midfield and preventing San Jose from counter-attacking.

However, the Whitecaps attack was putting on a disappearing act. Ryan Gauld looked more involved but Brian White and Damir Kreilach looked quiet. They simply were lacking the final pass and shot. In fact, the only shot attempt of the half came in the 35th minute from Javain Brown’s header which Daniel managed to grab easily.

The Whitecaps structure was on full display but their attack was again, lacking.

What we learned from the second half

The Earthquakes were continuing to press in the early stages of the second half. They looked poised to open the scoring. Cue the Doom music. Thankfully for the Whitecaps, the Earthquakes’ impact on goal could barely touch the Richter Scale. Their best chance was an Amahl Pellegrino header that just went wide of the right post on a Cristian Espinoza header.

Vancouver made Pellegrino and San Jose pay for their toothlessness in front of Yohei Takaoka. More importantly, it was assistant coach Michael D’Agostino and the substitutions of Fafà Picault, Ali Ahmed and Alessandro Schöpf.

Picault helped lead the charge with his pace and passing. His ability to run in behind the defenders was causing problems for the Earthquakes. With him on the pitch, the Whitecaps were looking more fluid with their attack and press.

Of course, it wasn’t just Picault who did the work. Schöpf’s bullet of a shot past Daniel got Vancouver on the board. It was a well-taken shot and Schöpf’s first goal since March 4, 2023… and that was against the Earthquakes at PayPal Park.

The Whitecaps continued to push for another goal. Their defensive structure and shape were still intact. But Ahmed came through with the final blow like Goku using Dragon Fist. His power was over 9000 and he made Tommy Thompson look like me playing soccer in the schoolyard or in PE. I guess it is fair to say Ahmed can be called a “wonderkid” and it won’t be long before Europe comes calling.

This isn’t his final form. One day, he might go Super Saiyan.

It wasn’t a pretty game for the Whitecaps but a win is a win. The first half’s lack of attack was something to be improved on. (Also that first half was like watching paint dry) It’s safe to say they did just that as the substitutions came on and kept their structure. They tried so hard and got so far, but in the end…it did matter.

Stat of the match

Cubas alone takes this category. It was another masterclass by the Paraguayan Kante.

What was said

I asked D’Agostino after the match about the Whitecaps’ structure and how it was key to their success in this game.

“As much as we didn’t have the ball…it came down to work rate…they did a great job,” he said.

“I give credit to the substitutes,” D’Agostino also said when asked if he deserved credit for the substitutions. “I’m the the one who put them on the field, they did the rest.”

Ahmed was the only player to speak to the media after the win.

“I’m excited obviously, it gave the guys a cushion for the two-goal lead and the three points,” he said on his goal. “I was hungry…I wasn’t shy to get the ball and go at them. I said I might have to be selfish on this shot. I said ‘I’m shooting’ and it went into the back of the net.”

“I really enjoy having the ball at my feet and attacking the defenders,” Ahmed also said. “I think that’s one of my strengths.

Ahmed also spoke about how he wants to get more involved offensively this season.

“I think I had solid performances last year but I didn’t score a lot of goals,” he said. “But definitely one of my goals this year is to score goals…hopefully you’ll see a lot more.”

Hopefully, we do.

Best of Twitter

Best experiment

It’s only been two games but having White and Kreilach up as technically two strikers has not worked. The attack seems to die at their feet. Perhaps having White up top and Gauld and Kreilach as two attacking midfielders could work better as a 3-4-2-1. That way White doesn’t have to worry about roaming around and focus on poaching. Kreilach could work with Gauld to create more service. However, Kreilach has looked more like his age so far instead of an impact player.

Best bold strategy

The strategy paid off. It also goes to show how important Ahmed is to this team. Obviously, everything can’t revolve around him but it is good to see him be a key part of the Whitecaps.

Best Goon

Picault was clearly ticked off at what Alfredo Morales said to him after he made what looked like a tackle that was a second or two too late. He and Morales both had to be restrained by their teammates and both got yellows. Whatever Morales said, it must have really triggered Picault and he could’ve gone Goku mode on him.

Best Vancouver sports night

Speaking of hockey…

As a certain Burnaby-born crooner sings: It’s a beautiful day (or rather, night in this circumstance) and I can’t stop myself from smiling, if we’re drinking that I’m buying!

What a beautiful night for Vancouver sports teams.

Best super sub

I agree with this. Picault deserves to start the next game and for the foreseeable future. His impact off the bench has been remarkable. Imagine what he can do if he starts.

Best…Tweet of the night

I usually don’t include Tweets from the same person twice but Caleb’s banger was too good not to be included. Maybe if Tim Ford hadn’t positioned himself to bodycheck Schöpf last November, maybe he would’ve shot it into row z. Or maybe he would’ve scored just like he did on Saturday night, who knows? Well, we do know Schöpf can shoot, maybe he should do it more often.


Well, that was a fun first post-match article for me this year. Here’s to many more like this. I still need a name for these, let me know if you have any ideas.

Also, you might have noticed there were a lot of Dragon Ball references in this article. It was mainly because the franchise’s creator Akira Toriyama sadly passed away last week at the age of 68. I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z as a kid and barely understood it, but I enjoyed it. It was mainly a way to fit in with my friends. Many soccer players around the world love the Dragon Ball franchise including Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Harvey Elliott and Neymar. Dragon Ball is a franchise that has themes of perseverance, learning from failure and believing in yourself, which are traits soccer players or anyone should have. Rest in peace to Akira Toriyama.

As for the Whitecaps, they play FC Dallas in Fresno next Saturday. FC Dallas are coming off a 2-1 road loss to the New York Red Bulls. Kickoff is at 7:30 pm Pacific.