VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Camilo Sanvezzo and Kenny Miller scored second-half goals and the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 Saturday.
Sanvezzo and Miller, who returned after missing the previous game with a groin injury, scored 14 minutes apart as the Whitecaps (10-7-6) ended a three-game winless skid.
Vancouver also put six points between the two clubs in the tight Western Conference. The Earthquakes (8-10-6) had their winning streak end at three games.
Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted recorded his first MLS shutout as he made his home debut since signing with Vancouver in June. It was Vancouver’s fourth shutout of the season by three different goalkeepers.
“It was great getting (the first MLS shutout) at home, at B.C. Place in front of the home fans,” Ousted said. “It was good to get started with a clean sheet and a nice win.
“It’s important right now with the table being as tight as it is and (the need for) getting the points at home.”
The two second-half goals came from Vancouver’s strong defensive effort in the first 45 minutes.
The Whitecaps had an early chance as Miller’s sixth-minute header rolled over the crossbar and rested on top of the San Jose net, but the hosts then spent much of the first half in defensive mode.
Gershon Koffie, playing in the holding midfielder spot for the first time, was a strong presence, often serving as a fifth defender and he made a number of long headers and kicks to get the Whitecaps out of trouble. Koffie drew the assignment after returning from a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation. He filled the role usually performed by Jun Marques Davidson, who returned to the lineup from a one-game suspension for head-butting a Philadelphia player two weeks ago but was relegated to the bench.
Ousted, kept the first half scoreless as he got his arm on a Cordell Cato shot in the 39th minute.
Eight minutes into the second half, Whitecaps midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker blocked Chris Wondolowski’s attempt to tap in a rebound off Ousted’s hand. The scoring attempt developed off a free kick by former Whitecaps midfielder Shea Salinas.
Reo-Coker stood out again in the 60th minute when he sprinted with the ball from midfield, ran down the right flank with two defenders giving chase and put a pass behind another to Sanvezzo, who flicked the ball inside the far post to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead.
Reo-Coker, a 29-year-old midfielder from London who logged more than 200 matches in the English Premier League, said he was able to succeed after coach Martin Rennie instructed him to play more of an attacking role.
“It gave me a bit more freedom to get in the box and join in with the forwards and the strikers,” Reo-Coker said. “And that’s what I did.”
The goal was Camilo’s 14th of the season.
“I just saw (Camilo) out of the corner of my eye,” Reo-Coker said. “So all I could do was just put it in there, because I couldn’t take it any further. So I just put it in the box and then hoped that he could get there.”
“It’s very important,” Camilo said. “I’m more happy (when) our team wins the really important games. Today, we pick up three points. It’s very important for us.”
Ousted preserved Vancouver’s lead in the 70th minute as he caught a Salinas bicycle kick from close range. Cato had another chance about a minute later, but he fired wide from about 12 yards.
Miller gave the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead four minutes later as he put in a Russell Teibert cross from the right flank.
“It was a great goal by Kenny,” Reo-Coker said. “I’m just happy the team made a goal on that. We got the goal and we got the result. That’s the main thing, getting the result.”
The loss spoiled Earthquakes interim coach Mark Watson’s first game in his hometown since taking over in June from Frank Yallop, who also grew up in Vancouver.
“We are obviously very disappointed,” Watson said. “It was a big game. We knew there was a lot on the line. ... They took their chances — and we didn’t.”
Notes: Central defender Andy O’Brien returned to Vancouver’s lineup after missing two months with a hamstring injury suffered in early June, but did not play. ... Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the first game of the season, hopes to sign a contract extension in the near future. He was negotiating with the club at the start of the season, but talks were put on hold as he recovered from his injury. He has resumed full training and is expected back in late August or early September. ... Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch has played every minute of each match this season. ... San Jose’s Clarence Goodson and Rafael Baca both drew yellow cards for fouls on Teibert in the first half. But Teibert also received a yellow card in the second half. ... Vancouver striker Tommy Heinemann made a rare appearance as he subbed in for Miller in the final 86th minute.