Spirit of ’74 lifts Whitecaps over San Jose

May 5, 2014 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | Leave a comment
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The Vancouver Whitecaps celebrated the 40 year anniversary of the first match of Vancouver Whitecaps football with a 3-2 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.  Prior to the match the Whitecaps put Bob Lenarduzzi into the “Ring of Honour” and welcomed players who played on the first Vancouver Whitecaps squad back in 1974, including Les Wilson, one of my old coaches.  The Sound of Philadelphia theme the Whitecaps used to enter the pitch to back in the day was pumped out loud over the BC Place sound system.  It was a lot of fun, and the team responded to the celebration by playing celebratory football early on.

Bob Lenarduzzi was honoured

Bob Lenarduzzi was honoured

The San Jose Earthquakes have had a bad start to their season, and sit at the wrong end of the Western Conference. Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson chose to put a fast attacking team on the pitch in an attempt to overwhelm the Earthquakes. Darren Mattocks started up front, with Kekuta Manneh, Pedro Morales and Seb Fernandez, behind him; Gershon Koffee and Matias Laba were placed in front of the back four. Our usual line-up of Harvey, DeMerit, O’Brien and Beitashour at the back protected David Ousted in goal.

The Whitecaps seemed to ride a wave of emotion for the first 30 minutes of the match. The speed of the Whitecaps put San Jose on the back foot early, and the Earthquakes struggled to keep up with the pace of the match.  Manneh was in the mood early, running at the San Jose defenders with the ball at his feet, attacking from the left side.  After only ten minutes, Manneh got the ball on the left flank from Fernandez. He jinxed in between two defenders and headed towards the centre of the pitch at the top of the 18 yard box.  He unleashed a low drive which went between his marker’s legs and hit the left post;  the ball bounced right back to him, and, with a delicate cushion shot, he knocked the ball off of the far right post into the net. It was the start Carl Robinson wanted.

Manneh gets ready to score

Manneh gets ready to score

Eight minutes later the speed and trickery of Darren Mattocks forced Earthquakes defender Bernardez to bring him down in the penalty area.  Mattocks seems to create or to score a goal in every match he plays in this year.  He really has lifted his game tremendously over last year.  Morales headed straight to the ball and picked it up, claiming the right to take the penalty. He stroked the ball with his right foot into the bottom left corner of the goal, with ‘Quakes keeper Jon Busch falling the wrong way.

Less then a minute later Morales was at it again when San Jose turned the ball over soon after the kick-off from the goal. Kekuta Manneh got the ball just over the halfway line and ran at San Jose’s defence.  He pushed the ball over to Morales who had room to work.  Morales took two touches and crushed the ball past the diving Busch from 25 yards out. The Whitecaps were up 3-0 within 20 minutes.

It looked like the Whitecaps would go on to score more goals, but an injury to Darren Mattocks changed the complexion of the Whitecaps attack.  Mattocks ran after a deep pass and pulled up gripping the back of his leg in pain.  He collapsed on the pitch and was substituted with Eric Hurtado on 30 minutes.  Had Mattocks stayed on the pitch I would not be surprised if we had scored three more goals in the match.

"Sir, please replace your garment."

“Sir, please replace your garment.”

While Hurtado had his best match yet and was unlucky not to score, his touch on the ball is still too clumsy and heavy, and the Whitecaps had lost all their sharp teeth in this match when Mattocks left the pitch.  San Jose took advantage and pulled back a late penalty just before half-time.  Jay DeMerit got to a high ball first but the Referee judged him to have gone through Alan Gordon to get to it.  It looked a bit like a make-up call for the earlier penalty. Chris Wandolowski converted the penalty, sending Ousted the wrong way.  it was 3-1 just before half time.

In the second half the Whitecaps sat on their lead and failed to generate any of the fizzle they had in the first half. Hurtado again nearly scored on a charge on San jose’s goal which started at the centre line.  Hurtado’s last touch before shooting was a bit too strong and Busch managed to smother his shot. Hurtado looks like a player who is poised to take his game to the next level, even though he was unlucky in this match.

Nico Mezquida replaced Fernandez and Manneh gave way to Kenny Miller, who gave a muted performance for reasons which would become obvious later. With Manneh and Mattocks out of the match and Fernandez leaving due to cramp, the Whitecaps attack had lost virtually all of its speed and guile.

Magic Morales scores

Magic Morales scores

With three minutes of injury time signalled by the fourth official, the Whitecaps looked set to win comfortably.  One minute into injury time however, Wando struck again after the Whitecaps became lackadaisical in defence.  Wandolowski got the ball at the far post in a lot of room and slotted the ball low past a couple of Whitecaps defenders.  The ball looked like it took a slight deflection off of DeMerit, which wrong-footed Ousted in goal.  All of the sudden it was 3-2 and the win looked less than comfortable.  It looked in grave peril when the Earthquakes earned a free kick 40 yards out to the left of the Whitecaps goal a minute later.  San Jose put all of their big players into the box and one of them ended up heading the ball high in to the air directly in front of the Whitecaps goal. Ousted used his height to claim the ball and take the pressure off. Credit has to be given to the Whitecaps goalkeeping staff, who have trained Ousted to catch the ball rather than punch it away.

The match proved to be a watershed in historical terms but would also become notable for the last match Kenny Miller would play for the club.  The next day the Whitecaps and Miller announced the fact they had agreed to part ways, with Miller likely headed back to Scotland to finish his career there.


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