By JOSE M. ROMERO
San Jose and Vancouver didn't look like two teams a long way from playoff contention Wednesday night at Buck Shaw Stadium.
In fact, it was almost a shame neither team — both were in need of a win — walked away victorious. Instead, both settled for a 2-2 draw.
Two star offensive players, the Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski and the Whitecaps' Eric Hassli, scored two goals apiece. Three crossbars were hit. One defender from each team made a goal-saving play. And at least one former Earthquake had a return to remember against his former club.
Shea Salinas, a one-time Earthquake, assisted on both Vancouver goals and almost had another one in the 66th minute when his cross to Camilo turned into a header that went wide.
San Jose was on its way, it seemed, when Simon Dawkins looped a pass to Wondolowski, who was onside when he settled the ball and scored.
But as the first half went on, the Whitecaps began to play with more resolve, and in the 42nd minute Salinas got the ball to Hassli for his first goal.
San Jose took a 2-1 lead when Wondolowski headed in a free kick from Jacob Peterson in the 54th minute. Wondolowski was left alone in front of the goal when his defender stumbled.
Salinas and Hassli teamed up again in the 61st minute, Salinas dribbling deep into the box and crossing before the ball went over the end line to Hassli for the finish. That tied it at 2, then it got really exciting.
Wondolowski hit the crossbar. Then in the 74th minute, Camilo's free kick bounced toward Earthquakes keeper Jon Busch, who appeared to be shielded from seeing the ball until the last second, when he made the save. Steven Lenhart missed an open net wide right in the 83rd minute, Whitecaps keeper Joe Cannon tipped another Lenhart try over the goal a minute later — to the delight of plenty of San Jose fans who adored the former Quake — and San Jose defender Bobby Burling saved a goal when he bumped Camilo off the ball on a breakaway in the 86th minute.
Vancouver's Gershon Koffie tried a 35-yard rocket in the 89th minute that went off the crossbar out of Busch's reach, and the Whitecaps' Greg Janicki prevented a goal at the other end in stoppage time.
The Whitecaps (2-10-8) stopped a four-game losing streak in MLS matches while the Earthquakes (5-6-8) failed to win for the seventh straight game. San Jose's Ramiro Corrales picked up a rather silly yellow card just before the match ended and will miss the club's next game with his fifth yellow.