Whitecaps shut out Earthquakes 2-0
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- With a chance to draw level with one of their chief rivals for a postseason berth in the Western Conference, the San Jose Earthquakes dropped a disappointing 2-0 decision to the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a crowd of 20,151 at BC Place Stadium.

After failing to capitalize on some promising scoring opportunities earlier in the match, the Earthquakes (8-10-6, 30 points) surrendered a counterattacking goal to MLS’ co-leading scorer Camilo Sanvezzo. The Whitecaps (10-7-6, 36 points) capped off the scoring with a Kenny Miller goal off a broken play, ensuring that the Quakes winning streak would end at 3 games.

“We are obviously disappointed with the result,” said interim head coach Mark Watson. “It was a big game with a lot on the line and we didn’t get a good result. It was a pretty even game and sometimes it just comes down to one team finishing their chances and today that was the story. We had some good opportunities that we didn’t convert and they took their two chances well and got the win.”

San Jose and Vancouver played a very tight first 60 minutes, as neither side looked ready to concede any easy chances on defense. In the 39th minute following some good interplay in the Quakes midfield, Cordell Cato saw enough of an opening to blast a shot on goal that goalkeeper David Ousted did well to reach with a diving save. Chris Wondolowski saw another opportunity go wanting in the 55th minute off a free kick delivery from Shea Salinas.

“Clarence (Goodson) made a good play and got the ball back across the goal,” said Wondolowski. “The goalkeeper got a little piece of it and I got a touch, but not enough of a touch. (Nigel) Reo-Coker got back well and cleared it.”

Following Ousted’s heroics, the home side finally broke through in the 60th minute on a perfectly executed counterattack. After Y.P. Lee stripped Cato of the ball during a promising Earthquakes attack, he sent a well weighted ball past the center line and into the path of Nigel Reo-Coker running into space on the right side. Eluding Clarence Goodson at the edge of the area, Reo-Coker delivered a smooth cross toward the penalty spot that Camilo redirected home for the game’s first goal.

After twice failing to equalize, the Earthquakes gave up a clinching goal to the Whitecaps in the 74th minute. A pass into the area from Russel Teibert found Reo-Coker, but the English midfielder whiffed on his shot and the ball continued through to Miller. The Scottish international, with a step on his defender, calmly struck the ball inside the far post to double the Whitecaps lead.

“For 60 minutes or so, it was a very even game,” said goalkeeper Jon Busch. “We were very organized defensively and didn’t give them much, and offensively we did some nice things. We knew that they were dangerous on the counter and we did a good job on the counters in the first half. But they caught us twice in the second half and that was the difference in the game.”

Busch was seeking his 100th MLS victory, but his quest to reach that lofty mark will have to wait another week. The Earthquakes return home to Buck Shaw Stadium on Sunday to face Eastern Conference power Sporting Kansas City, and they will need to put this loss behind them if they are to have realistic hopes at making the postseason.

“We are definitely not going to hang our heads after this one,” said Watson. “We are disappointed but we know that there are enough points out there for us to get into the playoffs. We are going to get back to work this week, look at this game and learn from it, and then go out and try get a good result against Kansas City.”

With only 10 games left in the Earthquakes season and the team in eighth place needing to make up ground on at least 3 teams, the margin for error to qualify for the playoffs is razor thin.

“We need to get back to practice, learn from our mistakes and be ready to play a better game Sunday against Kansas City,” said Wondolowski. “This team is going to keep going and fighting for a playoff spot.”

Notes: Central defender Andy O'Brien returned to Vancouver's lineup after missing two months with a hamstring injury suffered in early June, but did not play. ... Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the first game of the season, hopes to sign a contract extension in the near future. He was negotiating with the club at the start of the season, but talks were put on hold as he recovered from his injury. He has resumed full training and is expected back in late August or early September. ... Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch has played every minute of each match this season. ... San Jose's Clarence Goodson and Rafael Baca both drew yellow cards for fouls on Teibert in the first half. But Teibert also received a yellow card in the second half. ... Vancouver striker Tommy Heinemann made a rare appearance as he subbed in for Miller in the final 86th minute.