Earthquakes / Whitecaps / Matchup Insight
The Vancouver Whitecaps play party host to the MLS’s current top team in the powerful San Jose Earthquakes squad. Vancouver lost 3-1 to San Jose in their fifth league game of the season, to kill off the four match undefeated run that opened their year.
Today’s contest is vital for Vancouver to avoid defeat and prevent the Earthquakes from starting to run away with the Western Conference title.
If the Whitecaps win, they will close the points gap with San Jose to just five, with a game in hand.
San Jose Earthquakes
San Jose is loaded in all areas of the park. They are the top goal scorers in the league with 20 scores in 9 matches, highlighted by the impressive Chris Wondolowski , who sits atop the league with 10 of his own.
They also have a strong defence, and this unit is sixth in the MLS with fewest goals allowed. The back line plays compactly but still works well moving forward.
In fact defender Steven Beitashour is joint third in the league stats with five assists for the year.
The creative midfield caused the ‘Caps significant problems in the previous contest, so this San Jose team presents numerous headaches all over the field.
Despite the onerous task ahead of them, Vancouver has proven to be resilient this year in a manner that was unthinkable last season. When the Whitecaps suffered back to back 3-1 defeats to San Jose and Sporting Kansas City, it begged the question of whether their whole promising 2012 season might just simply fall apart.
However, since then the team has established a three game win streak, with two victories in the league and another mid-week in the Amway Canadian Championships.
At forward, Eric Hassli is now back on the scoring path, Sebastien Le Toux continues to work as hard as any player in the league, and Omar Salgado has brought an energy and vitality to invigorate the attack.
The defence, spearheaded by Jay DeMerit and YP Lee has provided the steel spine of the team, and has worked hard to regain the structure of the side following those embarrassing defeats.
The Vancouver midfield is the key to this game. If they can match the work rate and skill level of San Jose, then Vancouver can upset a San Jose team that has been running well, but is overdue for something of a fall.
The Whitecaps will be very eager to prove their merit against a top team and I believe are due to produce one of their best performances of the season.
Although Vancouver already had their mid-week game against FC Edmonton this week, they played an almost entirely second string lineup and are well rested for this encounter with the MLS leaders.
Vancouver will push hard in this match and expect a bruising 2-2 shootout draw.