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San Jose Earthquakes score early, but Vancouver Whitecaps laugh last in 3-2 win

Aug 25, 2018; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jahmir Hyka (10) celebrates reacts with fans after scoring a goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps during the first half at Avaya Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

SAN JOSE, Calif. — A season of lows took another dip, as the San Jose Earthquakes failed to protect a two-goal lead, allowing the Vancouver Whitecaps to score three second half goals en route to a 3-2 victory in front of 16,326 at Avaya Stadium Saturday night.

San Jose (3-14-8) took a lead within 20 minutes of the opening whistle, as Jahmir Hyka and Magnus Eriksson staked the Quakes to a 2-0 advantage. But a stellar second half from the Whitecaps (10-9-7) saw them score three unanswered goals within a 10-minute span to take the lead and extend the Earthquakes winless streak at Avaya Stadium to 10 games.

“We played really well, especially in the first 30 minutes and we took control of the game,” Quakes head coach Mikael Stahre said. “When we conceded the first goal, I think we lost everything, actually. We lost the shape, the power and the willingness to play. It was a crazy defeat.”

Chris Wondolowski, who is only four goals away from matching Landon Donovan’s all-time MLS goal scoring record, came off the bench for the fifth straight game, just after the Quakes had conceded Vancouver’s third goal. Despite his efforts, Wondo was unable to find an equalizer.

“Devastating,” Wondolowski said. “I don’t think words can quite describe it right now. Just a gut punch. I think we played so well for so long and then 15 minutes of just complete let downs. Our mentality is just not strong enough right now.”

Wondo had entered the game for Eriksson, who scored his fifth goal of the season to stake San Jose to its two goal advantage. The midfielder has scored twice in the last three games, both from the spot and both as part of losses.

“We have had a pretty rough season,” Eriksson said. “The confidence is maybe not on top, but we’re up 2-0 and we need to play more organized. We need to play better than we did. We played pretty naïve today, made mistakes and eventually lost the game.”

The Quakes dominated the game from the opening whistle, exploiting plenty of empty spaces on the wings and crossing the ball at will. The breakthrough came just seven minutes into the game, as Nick Lima’s pass was headed away by Aaron Maund, but fell to the feet of Hyka. He took a touch to settle the ball, eluded the sliding tackles of three defenders, and calmly slotted the ball past Stefan Marinovic to put the hosts up 1-0.

In the 18th minute, the Earthquakes made it two. Following Marcel de Jong’s tackle of Danny Hoesen inside the area, which originally was called a foul outside the box, referee Baldomero Toledo reviewed the play and awarded a penalty kick. Eriksson drove the ball past Marinovic, even as the goalkeeper guessed the right direction.

The two-goal lead was the first for the Quakes at Avaya Stadium since the home opener, a game they led 3-0 against Minnesota United before hanging on for a 3-2 victory. San Jose has yet to win again at home this season.

The first 45 minutes was all San Jose, and they had a handful of additional opportunities to extend the lead. Vancouver was on the ropes, but the Quakes failed to capitalize.

The second half was a different story, as the Whitecaps stormed out of the gate and were the more physical force on the field. Still trailing by two goals, the visitors quickly collected three yellow cards, but the lack of discipline served more as a rallying cry than a punishment.

Vancouver’s first goal came from an expertly driven free kick by Yordy Reyna that stymied goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell on a short hop. The shot came untouched through the wall, but Tarbell could only get a glancing glove to the ball as it bounced out of reach.

The equalizer came on the counterattack, as Kei Kamara sent a perfect through ball to Cristian Techera on the break. The Whitecaps speedster beat Guram Kashia to the ball, baiting him into making a sliding block attempt, then slotting the ball past Tarbell. It was a textbook play for Vancouver.

Capping off their offensive outburst, the visitors took advantage of another long ball, this one from Maund, to get behind the Earthquakes defense. Reyna had acres of space to work in as he cooly passed the ball through the box for Kamara to tap in at the far post to make it 3-2 to the Whitecaps.

The stunned Quakes, who had a two-goal lead just 10 minutes earlier, brought in Wondolowski from the bench, hoping to capture some of the captain’s magic. The team responded with plenty of activity in the attacking third, but the Vancouver defense was up to the challenge, keeping the Earthquakes home record at a lone win.

“We have to keep going, but it will be really hard to save the season,” Kashia said. “That’s the situation we are in, a situation we put ourselves into.”

The loss pushes San Jose further down the standings with only nine games remaining in the season. The Earthquakes complete their three-game homestand with a midweek game against Western Conference-leading FC Dallas on Wednesday.

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