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San Jose v Vancouver (2-2) – Hassli’s Brace Cancels out Wondo’s

Entering the match, the two sides came in limping. Vancouver were on a four match losing streak and San Jose had gone winless in six.San Jose’s Strategy      Frank Yallop started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, using Wondolowski on the ...

22 Jul 2011, 01:13 IST
San Jose’s Strategy
     Frank Yallop started with a 4-2-3-1 formation, using Wondolowski on the left side instead of as a strike partner for Lenhart. Lenhart’s job was to hold up the ball and he took quite a pummeling doing so. Dawkins operated as the playmaker between the forwards and midfield. Wondolowski played more as a left striker than a left winger and stayed high up the pitch. On the right side, Peterson played as a true winger and the midfield of Dawkins, Ring and Stephenson looked to find him in space.
Vancouver’s Strategy
     Tom Soehn had to forge a makeshift back four due to the absences of Jordan Harvey, Alain Rochat and Jay DeMerit. Jeb Brovsky went from midfield to left back and slide Greg Janicki into central defense. Also, Mustapha Jarju made his MLS debut and Vancouver went to a 4-4-2 instead of their usual 4-2-3-1. Camilo and Salinas played on the wings, swapping sides midway through the first half.
Quakes Score Early and Dominate
     The Earthquakes claimed the lead in the third minute of the match. Vancouver gave the ball away in their own half. Lenhart sent a return ball to Dawkins who delicately chipped a pass to Wondolowski out wide. Brovsky was caught out of position and Wondo was free to finish a right footed shot past Joe Cannon.
     San Jose remained the team on top for the majority of the first half. Lenhart was working hard to hold up the ball and draw fouls. Wondolowski looked dangerous in the left forward spot and Dawkins and Peterson were looking to find the two forwards.
     Vancouver started slow as Jarju and Hassli looked like strangers playing together. Salinas was active out wide and trying to swing in crosses but the two strikes were standing on top of each other a few times and made themselves easy to mark. Jarju did have a great chance to the right of goal but put it over. San Jose’s 4-4-2 defensive shell was proving difficult to breakdown.
Vancouver level Before Half and Carry Momentum
    Just before the half, Simon Dawkins was forced to leave the match with a hamstring injury and the rookie Rafael Baca was brought in. After this change, the match seemed to swing in Vancouver’s favor. One minute later, Hassli was able to equalize. San Jose lost possession on the left touchline and Salinas put Hassli through on goal through the left channel. This was possible because Bobby Burling was caught too high up the pitch and Hassli finished to the far post with Busch only able to get fingers to his shot.
     Due to the Dawkins injury, Yallop set his side in a 4-4-2 to start the second half, moving Baca wide left and Wondolowski up top. This tactical change did not seem to forge a cohesive attack. However, the Quakes were able to take the lead back in the 54th minute. Peterson sent in a free kick from the right side that was comfortably finished by Wondolowski, for his second of the night. The free header a mere five yards from goal was made possible after Wondo’s marker had fallen down.
     Nevertheless, the Whitecaps responded well to again being down a goal. Through his excellent off the ball movement, Hassli began to find room in the channels and Jarju stayed up top. But, the Gambian’s night ended early in the second half and Vancouver sent in Chiumiento to play behind Hassli and shift to a 4-2-3-1.
     The Caps found success down the left hand side. Salinas was going by Chris Leitch like he was a turnstile. In the 61st minute, Salinas provided his second assist to Hassli. He skipped past Leitch to the endline and squared the ball to Hassli who was unmarked ten yards from goal, and the French man finished for his second goal.
Wide Open Final 25 Minutes
     Both teams were in dire need of a win and they were desperately trying to score a third. This made the final quarter of the match entertaining. Salinas found space by Leitch again and set up Camilo who missed the target. Lenhart had a one v one after Janicki misplaced a header. The out of form striker missed the target and two minutes later had a header saved by Cannon. Camilo had another chance but took too many touches and Burling recovered to clear in the 86th minute. Three minutes later, Koffie rattled the crossbar with a rocket off the crossbar. Wondolowski had two half chances in the 92nd minute but was unable to get a shot away, the match ending in a draw.
     Neither manager will be happy to pick up a point, but they can take positives out of the match.  
     San Jose has now drawn seven matches in a row. Frank Yallop should consider shaking up his lineup to try and freshen up his team. Maybe he should drop Lenhart to the bench and start Wondolowski on his own up top to make room for an attacking midfielder. The system they started the match with (Dawkins in the center) seemed to work but he may have picked up an injury for a few weeks.
     Vancouver look to have a promising strike partnership. Hassli will be freer to work the channels and hold up the ball while Jarju will play off the shoulder of the center backs and try and win headers and make runs to get behind the defense. This partnership may take a few games to look cohesive as a few times the strikers got in each other’s way.
     For future matches, maybe Tom Soehn will consider moving Camilo into the middle where he seems more comfortable to try and create chances for the strikers. Camilo played out wide but always wants to cut inside and find the ball instead of playing a true wing. If they keep him on the right, the right back will have to get forward to provide width.
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