VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps avoided disaster Saturday, posting a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes.
A flurry of activity in the game’s final minutes threatened to spoil the Whitecaps’ win, but Vancouver (11-9-7) hung on and is now unbeaten in their last six MLS matches.
San Jose (4-15-8) are firmly at the bottom of the MLS standings.
Whitecaps midfielder Alphonso Davies openedthe scoring in the 22nd minute, scooping a pass from teammate Yordy Reyna in the Quakes’ box and tapping it into the bottom left corner of the net.
It was the 17-year-old’s sixth goal of the year. Reyna and striker Kei Kamara were both credited with assists.
Reyna now has two goals and six assists in his last four league starts.
The Whitecaps seemed calm and unhurried throughout much of the game, taking time to set up plays and maintaining a strong defence.
They limited the Quakes to 11 shots, while putting up 16 of their own.
San Jose defender Nick Lima drew a yellow card for unsporting behaviour 42 minutes in, after he was caught tugging on Davies’ shorts as they battled for the ball.
Vancouver players were shown the yellow card twice in the second half, beginning with Cristian Techera, who was clocked for unsporting behaviour 63 minutes in.
The five-foot-two midfielder responded minutes later with his best attempt of the game, going one-on-one with San Jose keeper Andrew Tarbell and forcing the goalie to drop to the field to make a stop.
Reyna earned a yellow for unsporting behaviour in the 67th minute. It was the Peruvian’s fifth yellow card of the season and he will miss Vancouver’s next game.
The 24-year-old continued to grind out an impressive performance, despite the sanction.
In the 78th minute, Reyna sailed a pass to teammate Nicolas Mezquida. The midfielder took a moment to settle the ball, then punted a rocket into the upper left-hand corner of the net, just out of the reach of Tarbell.
The Quakes’ only goal of the night came in the 91st minute, when San Jose midfielder Vako Qazaishvili popped the ball in past Vancouver keeper Stefan Marinovic.
The Quakes gave the ‘Caps a scare in the final minutes, with a flurry of chances that kept Marinovic on his toes.
The Whitecaps have not posted a shutout since April 27, when they put up a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake.
The win was a crucial one for the ‘Caps, who are in a tight battle with the Seattle Sounders, Real Salt Lake, the Portland Timbers and L.A. Galaxy for the Western Conference’s last three playoff spots. The teams are all sitting within three points of each other.
The match was also the first in a three-game homestand for the ‘Caps.
On Sept. 15, they’ll host the Sounders, who are in the midst of a historic eight-game win streak. Vancouver will then battle FC Dallas, currently the top-seeded team in the Western Conference, on Sept. 23.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press
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