Earthquakes 2, Whitecaps 0: Vancouver’s post-season pulse is fading fast

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The Vancouver Whitecaps are mathematically alive, but the odds of them making the postseason are longer than a rendition of the national anthem by Bleeding Gums Murphy after a shutout loss to the Earthquakes

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The Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t dead yet.

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But figuratively, they’ve been shot and bleeding, with the vultures circling overhead. And all potential oases have dried up in the intense heat of the final weeks of the Major League Soccer season – and that includes Saturday night’s 2-0 capitulation to San Jose’s latest earthquakes at PayPal Park.

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“Disappointed. Disappointed. Because we know the implications of a loss right now,” midfielder Russell Teibert said after the game.

“There are not many games left and there is a lot of ground to make up for. That being said, if you look at the standings, we still have a chance. Mathematically, we are still in it. And that playoff line is still accessible. But tonight is a missed opportunity.


NEXT GAME

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Saturday

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Colorado Rapids

6:30 p.m. Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. TV: TSN, Radio: AM730


It was the second straight loss for the Whitecaps (9-13-7), who are now 10th in the Western Conference standings. After making the playoffs last year, it looks like Vancouver has regressed in its ouroboros of mediocrity and looks likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.

Jeremy Ebobisse and Jamiro Monteiro staked San Jose (7-12-9, 14th West) for a 2-0 lead, and despite allowing the most goals in the conference (55), the Caps never have not found the offensive to widen. out of the hole.

San Jose Earthquakes forward Tommy Thompson, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Cristian Dajome (11) battle for the ball during the first half at PayPal Park.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Tommy Thompson, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps forward Cristian Dajome (11) battle for the ball during the first half at PayPal Park. Photo by Darren Yamashita /USA TODAY Sports

As good as this team has been in the final moments of games, it was the 14th time the opposition opened the scoring against Vancouver this season.

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Prior to the start of the game, the Whitecaps’ chances of making the playoffs hovered around six percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com, but those odds drop dramatically based on the outcome alone. They aren’t mathematically eliminated, but with Lucas Cavallini set to miss the next three games through suspension and Ryan Gauld set to miss the next game through an accumulation of yellow cards, there’s a daunting task ahead.

The Whitecaps outscored San Jose 14-8 (6-4 on target) and had an xG – the probability of their scoring chances – of 1.4.

But they didn’t score any goals. The Quakes had an xG of 0.7 – but they scored twice.

“We asked (the players) after last week for a response in terms of attitude, in terms of fighting spirit, in terms of trying to do what we do, and tonight we tried. Tonight, we did it,” said head coach Vanni Sartini. “For this side, I’m… OK with the performance.

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“The way to save the season is to try to… win as many games until the end. We know the playoffs might be a miracle now. It’s still possible mathematically, so we have to fight for it. We don’t need conviction to make the playoffs. We have to believe (we) win in Colorado. I don’t want to finish (at the end of the season) 12 to 15. If we don’t make the playoffs, I want to finish eighth. We have to try to win the game every week, and in the end we will see.

For the first time this season, the Whitecaps won the possession battle with 51.6, but San Jose settled for playing up front and passing the ball to Vancouver.

It didn’t take long for the Quakes to take the lead on Sunday, with Ebobisse scoring his 15th goal of the year – good for fifth in the MLS Golden Boot race – four minutes later.

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San Jose Earthquakes forward Jeremy Ebobisse (11), right, scores a goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goaltender Thomas Hasal (1, left) during the first half at PayPal Park.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Jeremy Ebobisse (11), right, scores a goal against Vancouver Whitecaps goaltender Thomas Hasal (1, left) during the first half at PayPal Park. Photo by Darren Yamashita /USA TODAY Sports

Cade Cowell left Caps winger Javain Brown on all fours in his wake, then rushed into the box from the left. His cross found Jackson Yueill, whose smart back heel found Ebobisse unmarked behind for the goal.

The Caps continued to pressure the Quakes, with Ryan Gauld and Julian Gressel getting quality chances – the Scotsman with a long shot and the German with a close header requiring a split-second save from JT Marcinkowski.

But it was the Quakes who found the next goal, and it was another midfield breakdown – an all-too-common occurrence for the Whitecaps this season.

Monteiro sent a ball diagonally down the field to Cristian Espinoza under pressure from Andres Cubas. When the Caps midfielder turned his back, Monteiro spun up as Cubas slowly trotted home as play turned the other way. By the time the normally inscrutable Cubas realized Monteiro was a danger, it was too late as the Quakes midfielder was five yards in front of him and accelerating. He slid his shot to Hasal’s left from 15 yards out to make it 2-0.

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San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill (14) heads the ball against Vancouver Whitecaps forward / Brian White (24) during the first half at PayPal Park.
San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill (14) heads the ball against Vancouver Whitecaps forward / Brian White (24) during the first half at PayPal Park. Photo by Darren Yamashita /USA TODAY Sports

It appeared, for a brief moment before the linesman’s flag fluttered into peripheral vision, that Triston Blackmon had pulled one back in the 69th minute, but his goal was ruled offside. Brian White and Gauld both had chances in the last 15 minutes but couldn’t take advantage of them.

The Whitecaps’ next game is September 10 against the Colorado Rapids (6:30 p.m. PT, TSN, AM730) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Col.

The Caps have just two road wins this year (2-9-4) and the Rapids just two losses at home (7-2-5).

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