Whitecaps thump Earthquakes 5-0 for first playoff victory in franchise history

The third-seeded Whitecaps will now face the Seattle Sounders

Whitecaps thump Earthquakes 5-0 for first playoff victory in franchise history

The Vancouver Whitecaps have lived and died off set pieces in 2017.

A clinical performance Wednesday helped the franchise to its first-ever playoff victory.

Cristian Techera scored on a stunning free kick before Vancouver poured it on late in a 5-0 drubbing of the San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer’s single-elimination knockout round.

The Whitecaps scored 15 goals off dead-ball situations during the regular season and added three more in what turned into a dominating night after some early jitters.

“If you work hard at things you get your rewards,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson. “We’ve got the takers, the deliverers of balls, and we’ve also got people who can get on the end of things.

“Anyone who comes by our training sees the amount of work we spend on it.”

Nicolas Mezquida, with two, Fredy Montero and Kendall Waston had the other goals for Vancouver, which had three losses and a draw in four previous post-season matches since joining MLS in 2011.

“I’m delighted for everyone involved with the football club tonight, and everyone involved with the city,” said Robinson. “We needed a little bit of success, and we got a little bit of success today.

“But that’s all it is.”

The third-seeded Whitecaps will now face the Seattle Sounders, who finished second in the Western Conference and won last year’s title, in a home and away aggregate semifinal that starts Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium.

“We’re playing against the champs,” added Robinson. “We know we’re going to be underdogs. I like the underdog role.”

After setting up Montero’s opener in the first half, the pint-sized Techera curled a left-footed free kick over the wall and into the top corner from 30 yards out past a helpless Andrew Tarbell in the 57th minute to send the crowd of 21,083 into a frenzy.

Waston added Vancouver’s third goal seven minutes later off a corner after the ball pinged around the San Jose penalty area before being bundled over the line.

Mezquida, who subbed on in the 68th minute, then scored in 78th and 80th to complete the romp as the Whitecaps scored five times in a game for the first time this year.

“There were a number of top-class performances,” said Robinson. “The heart and the desire and determination to want to win the game … the boys don’t quit.”

Montero gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute after a nervy opening when Waston redirected a Techera corner right to the designated player, who made no mistake from in close.

The Colombian striker said he’s never been on a team that has relied this much on set pieces for offence.

“This is something unique,” said Montero. “We should keep believing we can keep hurting teams with this weapon.”

Vancouver returned to the MLS Cup playoffs after missing out by eight points in 2016, while sixth-seeded San Jose made the post-season for the first time since 2012 thanks to Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 stoppage-time victory over Minnesota United.

The Whitecaps could have avoided Wednesday’s winner-take-all encounter with a victory over the Earthquakes at home on Oct. 15 in a game that ended 1-1, or by grabbing at least a draw in a 2-1 weekend road loss to the Portland Timbers.

Vancouver instead limped to the regular-season finish line with a 1-3-1 record, but were full marks on this night.

“We talked about set pieces being a huge key,” said Earthquakes head coach Chris Leitch. “That was the element that was really our Achilles heel.”

San Jose had a decent opportunity to equalize while down 1-0 less than a minute into the second half when Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic had to be sharp on Chris Wondolowski’s shot from in tight, but after a couple more half chances, that would be it for San Jose.

With the stadium’s retractable roof open on a chilly evening, Vancouver started tentatively and was almost made to pay in the fourth minute when Anibal Godoy forced a leaping save out of Marinovic on a free kick from 25 yards out.

The hosts looked nervous with a number of errant passes and giveaways early on, but started to play better as the half wore on and looked the more likely side to score when Montero finally broke through.

“You saw what it meant to the players and the club,” said Robinson. “We were so determined to get that first playoff win, and we did.

“Did we do it style? Yeah, we probably did.”

Notes: The Earthquakes’ bizarre regular season that included a minus-21 goal difference — good for third-worst in all MLS — saw the club get outscored by two goals or more in 12 of its 14 defeats by a combined score of 42-6. … Since the league expanded its playoff format in 2011, five of the 16 teams to advance from the knockout round have made the MLS Cup, with three clubs winning it all, including the last two years.

Just Posted

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read