Whitecaps FC San Jose Earthquakes NASL
Kent & Anita Kallberg

'Caps vs. Quakes retrospective: The case of the so-called rivalry

In recent years, Whitecaps FC fans have found themselves scratching their heads whenever the MLS schedule is unveiled, seeing San Jose Earthquakes slated to face the 'Caps on MLS Rivalry Week.

This raises the question - are the 'Caps and the Quakes really rivals?  

Ahead of their matchup at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 15, here's a look back at the some key moments between the two Western Conference foes.


This matchup goes back 36 years to 1974. Specifically, May 5, 1974. On this date the Vancouver Whitecaps played their first ever match. The opponent for that special occasion was the San Jose Earthquakes - who were also playing their first ever match.

17,000 fans packed into Empire Stadium to celebrate the birth of a professional soccer club in Vancouver. The Earthquakes would somewhat spoil the occasion by winning the match 2-1 in a shootout, but the date will live on forever as the kick-start to a vibrant soccer history in the city.


'Caps and Quakes fans do not necessarily think of each other right away when talking rivalries, however, if there is any lasting animosity between San Jose and Vancouver that would come from some memorable hard tackles and skirmishes over the years.

In 2015, there was the clash between former ‘Caps player Pedro Morales and Adam Jahn that resulted in a double red card. Then, only two years later, the matchup saw a heavy tackle from another former ‘Caps player, Nigel Reo-Coker, get plenty of media coverage in the tabloids in England - his home country and where he spent the majority of his career.

2012 is most likely considered San Jose’s best year since their last MLS Cup victory in 2003. The Earthquake teams during that time became known as “The Goonies” with “The Bash Brothers” - Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart - leading the way. Vancouver played some challenging and scrappy games against San Jose during this time, but fared well overall against them. Over the three-season span, the ‘Caps only lost one match in the nine times they played. Vancouver also came away with two victories over San Jose in 2012 despite the Earthquakes winning the Supporter’s Shield that season.


In 2017, San Jose came to Vancouver for the MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round. The ‘Caps rampaged through San Jose to come away 5-0 winners and earn their first ever playoff win since joining MLS in 2011. In the end, it was a record-setting evening for Vancouver as they enjoyed their biggest win margin, while scoring the most goals in one game, in the club’s MLS history.

So, circling back to the question.

Are the 'Caps and the Quakes true MLS rivals? 

Watch the latest installment and you be the judge.

Catch the two sides battle it out at the MLS is Back Tournament on July 15. Kickoff is live on TSN at 6 p.m. PT.