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

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

Aerial view of a wildfire at 16 Mile, 11 kilometres northwest of Cache Creek, that started on the afternoon of June 15. (Photo credit: BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire at 16 Mile now being held

Wildfire started on the afternoon of June 15 at 16 Mile, east of Highway 97

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read