SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA- Anibal Godoy’s second-half wonder strike completed a 3-2 comeback win for San Jose Earthquakes (2W-0L-0D) over 10-men Vancouver Whitecaps FC (0W-1L-1D) on Saturday evening at Avaya Stadium.
Erik Hurtado and Nicolás Mezquida found the net early for the ‘Caps, but the visitors were forced to play majority of the match without David Ousted, after the starting goalkeeper was sent off with a straight red card in the 23rd minute. Chris Wondolowski and Nick Lima scored to draw the Quakes level, before Godoy scored the eventual match-winner in the 79th minute from over 30 yards out.
With Tuesday’s CONCACAF Champions League semifinal match in Mexico looming, Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made five changes to last week’s starting lineup against Philadelphia Union. Getting the nod were Jake Nerwinski and Ben McKendry, who were each making their MLS debut. Also drawing into the lineup was Kendall Waston, after serving a one-match suspension in the regular season opener.
There was plenty of action right from the opening whistle, thanks in large part to Hurtado’s strong and heady play. A product of nearby Santa Clara University, Hurtado put the ‘Caps ahead within the first two minutes when he got behind the Quakes centre backs and capitalized on a loose ball with a right-footed volley past goalkeeper David Bingham.
Hurtado was not done. Just 15 minutes later, he wreaked havoc once again, muscling past Lima on the wing, then finding Mezquida cutting in front of goal. Despite being surrounded by four Quakes defenders, the newly re-signed midfielder collected the ball then stuck it with his left foot into the San Jose net to double the ‘Caps advantage.
Momentum shifted to the home side in the 23rd minute when a floating long ball glanced past a pair of ‘Caps defenders and right to a releasing Wondolowski, who had only Ousted to beat. The Quakes striker chipped to avoid the goalkeeper, who had come off his line to meet the attack outside the danger area. Ousted clipped Wondolowski’s foot in the process, forcing the official to pull out a straight red card for a denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
With Ousted sent off, Robinson turned to backup goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi, who earned a clean sheet in the ‘Caps last visit to San Jose in October 2016. Down a man, the Vancouver defence was under siege for the remainder of the half, finally letting a goal in when Wondolowski pounced on a bouncing cross from Víctor Bernárdez in the 32nd minute.
The equalizer came early in the second half, with halftime substitute Jahmir Hyka initiating the attack for San Jose. The first-year MLS midfielder from Albania sent a cross from the left side to Wondolowski on the far post, who then served it up to Lima for a sliding right-footed strike.
In the end, it was Godoy’s long-distance rocket that proved to be the difference. The Panamanian midfielder found space outside the box and launched a screamer with his left foot, finding the top-left corner of the net for the winner in the 79th minute.
It was a valiant effort for the ‘Caps, who now turn their focus to the CONCACAF Champions League as they travel directly to Mexico for the semifinal first leg against reigning Liga MX champion Tigres UANL. Kickoff at Estadio Universitario is at 7 p.m. PT on Tuesday evening.