Photo Credit: Vancouver Whitecaps Twitter

*This was posted May 14, 2022*

The Whitecaps came into their match against the San Jose Earthquakes on a two-match run in all competitions. They were hoping to extend that to three and call it a streak.

A win would also guarantee moving ahead of their Western Conference rivals. But Vanni Sartini was dealing with tired players.

His skill as a man manager was to be in focus in this match.

The starting XI and initial thoughts

After a midweek win against Valour FC in the Canadian Championship, Sartini opted for a few changes. There were likely to be a few tired bodies in the squad, and with four other matches in May on top of this one, rotation was imminent.

Cody Cropper took the goalkeeper’s gloves while Thomas Hasal recovers from an injured finger.

On the back 4, which Sartini kept for a third game in a row, Ranko Veselinovic was given a rest, allowing Florian Jungwirth to pair with Erik Godoy. Jake Nerwinski kept his spot at left back, while Javain Brown started on the right, with Marcus Godinho dropping to the bench.

The midfield surprisingly was Russell Teibert, starting his third match in six days. Sartini said Teibert routinely ranks as one of the top two for fitness on the squad, so the hope is that he can manage the workload.

Sebastian Berhalter paired with the captain. Ryan Raposo kept his spot after his heroics in the midweek match with Cristian Dajome taking the right.

The top pairing saw Brain White stand beside Lucas Cavallini. Cavallini was one yellow card away from suspension, so it remained to be seen how he would handle this match.

Ryan Gauld was dropped from the lineup due to health and safety protocol. He joined Tosiant Risketts, Hasal, Tristan Blackmon and Caio Alexandre on the injured list.

It was a stronger lineup from the head coach over the match against Valour FC. However, Sartini will be conscious of managing his players’ fitness levels, given the pace of matches coming in May.

The first half

The half began promisingly. It took only 19 seconds for the Whitecaps to register a shot on target, with Cavallini getting on the end of a high cross with his head. It was easily parried by Earthquakes goalkeeper, JT Marcinkowski.

However, there was not much to write home about after that initial burst.

San Jose had the bulk of possession in the half, holding onto the ball 68.3 percent of the time. But they had nothing to show for it.

Most of the ‘Quakes’s possession was held along the defensive line or along the edge of the pitch. When they did get the ball inside, the Whitecaps did well to break things up when the ball got inside the 18-yard-box.

The opposing side started to get things moving after the half hour mark. Cropper was called into action to defend his net. His quick lateral movement saved the ‘Caps from going down in the first half, with two of his saves being especially important.

Cavallini’s early chance with the only shot the Whitecaps had on net, but Raposo did sail a good shot over the crossbar. Other than that, there was little else in terms of chances for the home team.

Special mention should be given to Brown for his workrate in the first half. Three interceptions were important in quickly changing the play back up the pitch. His third interception was what led to Raposo’s opportunity.

The half ended in a nil-nil draw. The Whitecaps would head down the tunnel, hoping for a spark to get them going in the second.

The second half

After the quietness of the first half, not many would have expected both teams to explode. But that’s exactly what happened, as we were treated to a six-goal display, three for each side.

San Jose tried to get things started early, putting one off the crossbar in the first minute back.

Raposo also had an early chance in the 50’ as he broke inside the box from the left. He had both strikers open for passes, but opted for the shot. Not the best decision, but understandable given his form as of late.

It didn’t take long for the Whitecaps to open the scoring after that. As good heads-up play by Jungwirth got things rolling. His quick take of a free kick caught the Quakes off guard.

Raposo jumped on the end of it and passed it up to Cavallini. The striker saw the run of Raposo, played a quick one-two to get around the defender, and moved into the box for the first goal.

Cavallini almost had a second one ten minutes later, but Marcinkowski was able to get a hand on it at the last minute.

That did lead to a quick transition for the Earthquakes. They moved fast and a high cross from the right found the head of Jamiro Monteiro, which tied things at one apiece.

Cavallini again tried to make the difference in the 74’. But as before, Marcinkowski showed his athleticism, getting on the end of the striker’s header.

But the buildup was in the ‘Caps’ favour as they scored a minute later. Raposo got his second of the season, putting the blue-and-white back in front.

The Earthquakes would pull ahead those. A quick brace of goals from Jeremy Ebobisse seemed to make the difference. The Whitecaps seemed to be headed for a fruitless fight.

But it was not over. They finally got their first corner kick of the match in the 86’, and they didn’t let it go to waste.

The first one saw Godoy try an audacious overhead kick, only to see the ball sail wide as the Quakes put it out of play. But he capitalized on the second attempt, slotting the ball efficiently into the back of the net in the 90’.

Cavallini almost had the winner in the dying seconds of the match. But his attempt just missed the far post.

In all, a 3-3 tie was a good outcome of the match. San Jose had the better first half, while the Whitecaps came to life in the second.

What was said

Sartini was happy with his DP striker’s form, calling it Cavallini’s “best game as a Whitecap.”

For his part though, Cavallini hedged his answer.

“I would say it was my best game if we won, but I’m happy with the performance,” he said.

Cavallini also commented on Godoy, saying he was happy the centre back was healthy once again.

“It’s great to have Eric back healthy, he’s important and gets lots of chances on set pieces,” said the striker.

Godoy added that he was happy to be playing after facing injury adversity early in the season.

“I’m happy to help the team,” Godoy said, “but we expect to be better in the defensive line because we conceded three goals but day by day we will look to get better.”

Stat of the match

Passing was a worry for the Whitecaps. They ended the night with an 80 percent passing accuracy. They also had 217 fewer passes than their opponents.

Next up

The turnaround for the Whitecaps is quick. FC Dallas comes to BC Place this Wednesday, May 18. Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m.