After going down a goal after the first 45 minutes, the San Jose Earthquakes found themselves in familiar and dangerous territory on the road. In each of Chris Leitch’s road games in which the Quakes were not winning by halftime, the Boys from the Bay allowed themselves to be steamrolled by three or more goals in the second half from seven different opponents.
Mercifully, the vicious cycle was broken in Vancouver. The Quakes used a five-man midfield–composed of controlling-mids Darwin Ceren and Anibal Godoy, and attacking mids Vako, Jahmir Hyka, and Chris Wondolowski–to control the second-half possession, rather than push players forward and leave the defense vulnerable to the counter-attack, which was what caused so many lopsided victories over the previous three months. In the end, the Quakes out-possessed first-place Vancouver 59%-41% and out-shot Vancouver 19-15 to secure the road point.
While Vako and Wondo are the ones that impacted the score sheet, Albanian International Jahmir Hyka and Andrew Tarbell were the stand-out players. The Hykachu finished with seven crosses, five key passes, three shots, one shot on frame, and completed 92% of his passes. Tarbell played on his head with more than a few clutch saves to keep San Jose in the match.
With the win, the Quakes control their own destiny. However, if U.S Soccer has taught the Quakes anything, it’s that gaining control does not automatically guarantee a step forward. The national team tried to emulate the same formula which gave the team a 4-0 win against Panama at home while on the road in Trinidad & Tobago; the U.S. lost and was knocked out of the World Cup. Wondo as a central mid did yield a goal via his back-heel assist, but his numbers weren’t the greatest: one shot on frame, one key pass, six dispossessions. If Wondo plays the central mid position on Sunday, the Quakes could be in for a long day, and even longer off-season.