VANCOUVER, B.C — It took until the final minute of stoppage time, but Eric Hassli put an end to his horrific 17-game MLS goalless streak to give the Vancouver Whitecaps a 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in front of 19,271 fans at BC Place on Saturday.
A goal each from Chris Wondolowski and Gershon Koffie rounded out the scoring and appeared to be all she wrote, before Hassli’s decisive strike in the game’s final breath.
During an open first half in which the visitors controlled the pace of play with 55.4 percent possession, it didn’t take long for San Jose to open the scoring through Wondolowski, as the poacher found himself unmarked in the area 15 minutes in.
Marvin Chavez found the red-hot striker lurking at the far post and put it on a platter for the 29-year-old to head home. Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon scrambled across but could only push the ball into the side netting to the chagrin of the on looking Southsiders just feet away.
The Whitecaps had an answer shortly before halftime, as Koffie used his noggin to level the score from a free kick generated by Omar Salgado down the left side. Camilo stepped up to take the set piece, whipping in a ball which the Ghanaian met well, beating Busch down the middle in the 41st minute.
Buoyed by his first-half goal, Koffie in the 48th minute powered a low shot from the edge of the area, but Busch did well to get down to save and hold the 20-year-old’s effort.
In the 75th minute, Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie was irate after the linesman flagged for offside, apparently deeming substitute Hassli, who was in an offside position, was involved in the play. Referee Chris Penso ran over to speak with Rennie, chiding the Scotsman and appearing to give him a final warning.
Yet the game’s decisive moment was to come in the fourth minute of stoppage time, as Hassli found himself alone on the left edge of the area and powered a low strike which Busch managed to get a hand on, before squeaking through and rebounding off the post and finding the back of the net.
Following the win, Vancouver improve to 5-2-2, while San Jose fall to 7-2-1.
OPTA Chalkboard: Vancouver seal comeback win
The Whitecaps prepare for a May 9 night match at BC Place against NASL side FC Edmonton in the second leg of their Canadian Championship semifinal, which they currently lead on aggregate 2-0.
The Earthquakes play their next match on May 13, as they host Chivas USA at Buck Shaw Stadium in MLS action.