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Drilling down on: at Vancouver 2, San Jose 1

Jul 22, 2012, 9:02 PM EST

Robson of the Vancouver Whitecaps celebrates his goal against the L.A Galaxy during the first half of their MLS soccer game in Vancouver.

Man of the Match: No question that Barry Robson lost some energy after about 20-25 minutes, but his hustling and bustling start helped the Whitecaps dominate early and contributed to the home team taking an initial lead. Later, Robson confidently converted a penalty kick and then helped his team see out an important win over the league’s top club.

Packaged for take-away:

  • San Jose right back Justin Morrow was having a miserable time early Sunday attempting to contain Dane Richards, who is eager to make an impression in his early days at BC Place.
  • San Jose had no solutions early for Robson and Camilo in the midfield, as the home team pressed and pressed. Camilo stared wide left in the Whitecaps’ 4-3-3, but moved inside a lot. Richards stretches the field on the right side, and Alain Rochat gets up the left flank reliably, so Camilo’s propensity to lean inside doesn’t really make the ‘Caps  attack too narrow.
  • Scottish veteran Robson made himself look silly. Twice. First by charging forward four yards out of the wall to block a first-half San Jose free kick. Then he complained bitterly about being booked. Presumably, the rules in Scotland haven’t changed on encroachment; he should know better.
  • About 20-25 minutes in, Gershon Koffie got too high up the field and Robson lost some of his energy. That’s about when San Jose got hold of the match.
  • As that happened, Vancouver sometimes got caught defending with just six (the back line plus defensive midfielders); when Justin Morrow and Steven Beitashour started feeling comfortable enough to move down the flanks, creating the numerical niceties, San Jose started looking for dangerous.
  • Nice shout-out from the home fans to just-traded striker Eric Hassli; they chanted his name in the 30th minute.
  • If you allow Earthquakes players to set up on the wing and take their sweet time, lining up something in the air for Chris Wondolowski or Alan Gordon (or Steven Lenhart when he’s healthy), you deserve whatever you get. Case in point: Marvin Chavez’s uncontested cross, which Gordon turned into a 38th minute equalizer.
  • That was the Earthquakes’ 17th goal this year off a header, easily best in MLS.
  • San Jose is the league’s top team for a lot of reasons. Among them: the Earthquakes are good at problem solving, and the good, old-fashioned art of “figuring it out.”
  • Camilo had an outstanding match, but he was absolutely looking for the contact as he drew a controversial 62nd-minute penalty kick. Then again, Sam Cronin slid in from a bad position, so he was asking for trouble.
  • Vancouver center back Jay DeMerit wasn’t the best with the ball Sunday, but the former U.S. international was sure hard to beat, on the ground or in the air.
  • As Darren Mattocks went up for an early cross, I had this realization: how can any of us see him climb for a ball now and NOT think of that physics-defying moment two weeks back against Toronto?
  • Mattocks didn’t score Sunday, but holy heck was that young man a bundle of high-energy ordinance over 78 minutes. His raw, athletic ability already looks among the best in MLS. His soccer brain seems to function at a high level, too. Now he just needs some polish and, well, look out …
  • Mattocks’ replacement was newly signed Scottish international Kenny Miller; the Caps’ new DP was making his debut.
  • The Whitecaps did hang on – but just barely. The Earthquakes have stunned teams late so many times this year, they always believe they can turn up the late winner or equalizer. They pressed the home team hard in this one but couldn’t quite get there.

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