The San Jose Earthquakes completed a stunning three-goal comeback to defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps in their second game of the 2017 MLS Regular Season, rallying back after an ugly start. The home side allowed two goals within the opening twenty-minutes, yet a Vancouver red card drastically shifted the momentum midway through the first half and the Quakes surged forward to the most unlikely of victories.
It was only the third time they’ve scored three goals in a match in Dominic Kinnear’s two years in charge of the club, a testament to their determination and new attacking flair.
The Quakes barely endured an inauspicious start as Vancouver broke out of the gates at breakneck speed, forcing the Quakes into countless turnovers in the opening few minutes. Unlike the Montreal Impact, who sat deep very deep against the Quakes last weekend, Vancouver operated a killer high press, overwhelming the home side with their urgency. Their intensity was rewarded with a goal within the first two minutes as Christian Techera jumped onto Victor Bernardez’s clearance and headed the ball on for Erik Hurtado. Florian Jungwirth got in front of the ball, but a miscommunication with goalkeeper David Bingham saw him head the ball to the side for Hurtado to volley in off the post, stunning the home crowd.
The seeds of a comeback were present as Victor Bernardez headed inches wide from a corner, but it would get worse before it got better.
Vancouver, invigorated by their fantastic start, doubled their lead in the seventeenth minute, capitalizing on yet another Quakes turnover. Hurtado muscled his way past Nick Lima down the left and whipped a low cross into the middle for Nicolás Mezquida, who had the space to control the ball with one touch and poke it past Bingham with a second.
At which point, all Quakes center-back Jungwirth could think was: “what the f*** is going on here?”
Vancouver nearly buried the game in the twentieth minute as the ball bounced kindly for Hurtado after Thompson was dispossessed right outside his own box, yet the bullish forward couldn’t keep his shot down.
Just as Vancouver appeared on the brink of sealing the victory, however, a turn of fate saw the visitors reduced to ten men in the twenty-third minute. A botched headed clearance saw Wondolowski break through on goal and David Ousted rushed off his line to make the block, only to take Wondo down with him right outside the penalty area. The resulting red card forced Vancouver to sacrifice Mezquida and, in turn, back off their high press, allowing the Quakes to find their feet.
The red card offered the Quakes a lifeline, which they seized with both hands.
Shaun Francis nearly pulled one back from Simon Dawkins’ incisive through ball on the half-hour mark, opening space for a close-range shot with neat footwork and the ball back arrowing a low shot on target. Substitute goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi made a fantastic stop at close range, yet the Quakes scored immediately from the resulting corner as Wondolowski buried Bernardez’s layoff.
The home side surged forward on the back of the goal, pinning Vancouver back in their own third. Wondolowski appeared to find the equalizer moments later, pouncing on Tornaghi’s spilled block from Marco Ureña’s bulleted shot, but the goal was pulled back for offside, his second disallowed goal of the night.
The halftime introduction of Jahmir Hyka for Tommy Thompson gave the Quakes exactly the acuity they needed in order to unlock Vancouver’s defense, the Albanian international creating the home side’s equalizer in the fifty-third minute. Hyka brilliantly weaved his way through Vancouver’s back-line and crossed in for Wondolowski, who laid the ball off for rookie full-back Nick Lima to smash home.
Hyka’s quick footwork nearly assisted Dawkins for a third moments later, yet Tornaghi was quick off his line to keep the score level. Wondolowski had a volley headed off the line in the panicked moments following the save and Hyka fired wide from twenty yards soon after, but the Quakes saved the go-ahead goal for the most incredible of finishes.
Godoy smashed a thirty yard winner with ten minutes from time, rifling a swerving, dipping effort from standing position right into the top corner, capping a fantastic victory in wonderful style.