By JUSTIN FERGUSON
After going on an impressive six-match unbeaten run in late June and early July, the Vancouver Whitecaps have hit a recent dip in form, failing to win in their last three matches.
But on Saturday evening at BC Place Stadium, the Whitecaps got back to their winning ways and pushed themselves into second place in a tight Western Conference with a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Midfielder Camilo brought himself back to the top of the league Golden Boot race with his 14th goal of the campaign, and Kenny Miller sealed the victory with an opportunistic strike with just 16 minutes left of regular time. Nigel Reo-Coker provided the assist for both of Vancouver’s second-half goals in what was a fine night for the English midfielder.
After a first half with very few chances on goal, the two sides traded solid second-half efforts in a furious attempt to break the deadlock. Moments after Clarence Goodson kept a Camilo effort from going across the line, Reo-Coker did the same for his club, keeping in-form forward Chris Wondolowski from a certain goal.
Just minutes after a Victor Bernardez header from a corner situation flew off-target, the Whitecaps got on the scoreboard. Veteran defender Y.P. Lee forced a turnover at the top of the Vancouver box and sent a quick ball to Reo-Coker, who blew past Clarence Goodson on a lengthy run and sent a low ball towards Camilo. The Brazilian’s sliding touch at the hour mark was enough to get past Jon Busch and into the corner of the net, giving the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead.
The Whitecaps continued to keep San Jose’s efforts out thanks to some tough play from their defenders and some solid saves from David Ousted. The Vancouver goalkeeper made six saves in the match, including a quickfire stop of a Cordell Cato shot in the opening frame.
Miller would put the match out of reach for San Jose in the 74th minute. A long cross-field pass from Camilo to Russell Tiebert sent Reo-Coker through on goal, but the Englishman whiffed on a chance to double the lead. His forward was right behind him, though, and Miller’s low strike beat a diving Busch to make it 2-0.
The Earthquakes continued to work their offense in an effort to pull one back, but Ousted was there to make two more saves to preserve the clean sheet.
Vancouver (10-7-6) will hit the road next weekend to face one of the Western Conference’s hottest sides, the Colorado Rapids. San Jose (8-10-6) will try to rebound a week from Sunday in a tough matchup against Sporting Kansas City.
Here are the match highlights: