The San Jose Earthquakes picked up a couple of statistical milestones Saturday. Just not the one they really wanted.
Jon Busch recorded his 1,000th career MLS save and Chris Wondolowski extended his run of personal dominance in the Canadian northwest with a pair of goals. But neither man’s performance could keep the Quakes from suffering a 3-2 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps, making this the fifth time in as many trips to either Empire Field or BC Place that San Jose could not come away with an MLS victory.
“There’s no rhyme or reason,” Wondolowski said of his nine career goals in league play against the Whitecaps, a figure that more than doubles anyone else’s total. “Obviously, we didn’t score enough to get a win, so we’ve got to figure that out.”
Wondolowski wouldn’t even allow himself to take consolation in the idea that U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann might have been pleased to see his first MLS brace of 2014 and fourth and fifth goals of the season.
“I do know that Klinsmann likes winners,” Wondolowski told reporters at BC Place. “And so I would have rather won the game and not scored...He takes everything into account, and I know for sure he wants winners.”
For the Quakes, who are now 0-4-1 in MLS play in Vancouver, joining the ranks of winners was made that much more difficult by the events of the opening 20 minutes. Sandwiched between three Whitecaps goals was the injury-induced removal of attacking force Yannick Djalo in the 14th minute. After looking forward to the Portuguese winger making his first MLS start -- playing underneath Wondolowski as a playmaker in a 4-4-1-1 setup -- San Jose suddenly had to bring on target man Alan Gordon in a rapid tactical shift.
Wondolowski brought the Quakes back just before the half, converting a penalty after Gordon induced a whistle in the box on Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit. Busch entered the Four-Figure Club with a sliding challenge off his line against onrushing Vancouver forward Erik Hurtado in the 54th minute. And Wondolowski gave a hint of Goonies magic with his cool left-footed finish in second-half injury time. But it wasn’t enough.
“Wondo kept plugging away,” Quakes coach Mark Watson said. “Wondo will always compete and give you everything he has. He did that right until the end and got his second goal.”
The outcome was made more difficult to stomach for the fact that the Whitecaps went right at the Quakes’ strength -- their backline, featuring World Cup hopefuls Victor Bernardez of Honduras and Clarence Goodson of the U.S. -- and got the better of them. Darren Mattocks, before being felled on the half-hour by a hamstring problem, and Kekuta Manneh were both nightmares that the Quakes ultimately weren’t able to handle.
“I felt that was the main issue,” Watson said of the Whitecaps’ speed. “They were really quick up front. We talked about it. We knew we had to try to limit their space and limit the number of times they would run at our back four. They got at us fairly soon after [the opening kickoff]. With the three goals, most of them came from those situations, and we had a hard time dealing with it.”