A rock band played music from the 70s outside the stadium, a high school orchestra played We Will Rock You inside, and fans arrived in bell-bottoms and afro wigs. The party was in full swing before the 40 year anniversary match on Saturday afternoon. And when the kickoff whistle blew the Whitecaps kept the party rolling.
In the 10th minute Kekuta Manneh dribbled his way into the 18yr box and smashed a low powerful shot against the post. Good fortune was with Manneh as his shot rebounded to his foot and Manneh completed a difficult chip into the far corner past a helpless Jon Busch. Not even 10 minutes later Mattocks was brought down in the box and Morales went to the spot and coolly gave the home side a 2-0 lead. San Jose got the game underway only to immediately turn the ball over to the Whitecaps who charged up the field. Manneh passed to Morales as the Earthquakes defence all fell back in unison. Morales riffled a shot past Busch to give the home team a 3-0 lead after just 20 minutes. The `Caps continued to press for more goals but Mattocks went down injured in the 30th minute. The momentum was changed and the Earthquakes score a penalty kick of their own in the 45th minute as DeMerit fouled Alan Gordon. The Whitecaps were too relaxed in the second half as they tried to be fancy. This nearly backfired on them when Chris Wondolowski scored his 2nd of the night to bring San Jose within 1 deep in injury time. Luckily the final whistle blew shorty after and the `Caps emerged with a 3-2 victory.
Overall, this was a very positive game for Vancouver. Vancouver controlled the game and looked dangerous on the counter even when San Jose finally realized that they are professional soccer players not pylons. The Whitecaps need to learn that fans want goals above all else. There is no need to get fancy after they have a large lead. Matias Laba and Pedro Morales were the standouts. Laba went about his business breaking up Earthquake attacks while Morales worked his creative magic. Morales struggled in the second half as he seemed to suffer from several cramps. Unfortunately, Robinson had already used his subs so Morales was forced to patrol the centre circle. Mattocks was subbed out in the 30th minute due to an apparent hamstring problem. The severity of this injury is not yet known. Hurtado replaced Mattocks and performed well. Hurtado had a shot saved off the line and forced Busch to make several stellar saves.
On Sunday morning the Whitecaps announced that they had mutually agreed to part ways with DP striker Kenny Miller. This is not a surprise. Miller`s contract was coming to an end in June and evidence of him resigning with Vancouver was non-existent. His wife had been very vocal on twitter about being homesick, and many guessed Miller wanted to finish his career in his native Scotland. The debate between Vancouver fans about Miller`s time with the Whitecaps will likely continue forever. Some say he was old, useless, and was not worth his DP contract. Most feel, myself included, that after a tough start to his Whitecaps career Miller managed to be a consistent threat for the Whitecaps while providing a cool, calm presence on the field. Not to mention that he was a fantastic role model for the younger players both on and off the pitch. Miller made 45 appearances for Vancouver since joining in summer 2012 transfer window. He scored 13 goals and had 3 assists. Unfortunately, Miller and his family flew out of Vancouver on Sunday night so fans were never able to give him a proper send-off. The Whitecaps now have a DP spot open and with the primary transfer window closing on May 12th I expect them to find a replacement; if they haven’t already.
The Whitecaps are heading into a very busy time of their schedule. They fly to Toronto for the first leg of the Canadian Championship semi-final that will take place on Wednesday night. Several young Canadians have been called up from the Whitecaps academy and USL PRO affiliate Charleston Battery for the Canadian Championship. Carl Robinson told local media that he intends to give several young Canadians a start against Toronto.