Carl's Keys vs. San Jose
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Carl's Keys to the Game vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Victory at all costs

Preview: 'Caps ready for another massive match

At this point in the season, there is no tomorrow. Our destiny is still in our own hands, but we need three points from this massive game.

It doesn’t matter about the performance, how much possession we have, or being on the road. It’s all about getting the result. We have to have a team of battlers on the field that are willing to grind out a result, win ugly, and have just one thing on their mind: victory at all costs.

Our recent run doesn’t matter anymore – neither do the incredible goals that keep going in against us. All that matters is that we have 11 players on the field who are ready to kick and scrap and do everything in their power to get three points.

With our backs against the wall, this can really pull the team together. A win on Saturday could give our ‘Caps a siege mentality and turn their season around.

We go into this game with our fate in our own hands and we need to keep it that way.

Gordon heads home the winner against LA Galaxy in June

Second balls and crosses

San Jose will be missing one of their most creative players in Rafael Baca through suspension, which could force them to play a more direct kind of play. It should come as no surprise if the Earthquakes try to play long balls into their big target player Alan Gordon, who is a handful in the air.

It’s going to be important how we react to the second ball. San Jose’s leading scorer, Chris Wondolowski, likes to feed off the striker knock-downs or flick-ons, so we will have to be on our toes to win the second ball as much as we can.

We also have to make sure the Earthquakes don’t get quality crosses into the box. They like to play with two wide players and if they get the second balls, they will look to get it wide to their fast wingers and have them take our fullbacks on and get dangerous crosses into the area.

We need to take away San Jose’s strengths and look to frustrate them, which will force them into mistakes that we can then capitalize on.

Last meeting: Whitecaps FC 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes

Time to shine

This is a game where I expect our big game players to make the difference. There is so much on the line for both teams and it could take a mistake or a moment of brilliance to win this game.

In goal, we need David Ousted to make the big save that could make the difference between winning and losing. At the back, we need Andy O’Brien to play a key role in organizing the defence and making sure we give up few chances.

We have to dominate the midfield and this will be on the shoulders of Nigel Reo-Coker, who had an outstanding performance against San Jose last month. If he can replicate that, it will bode well for our ‘Caps.

And up front, Camilo and Kenny Miller have to come up big and find us a goal in what I expect to be a very tight affair.

Soccer is obviously a team game and these players cannot do it on their own, but it’s time for our big guns to shine like they have done in the past.