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SpaceX Starship SN11 Blows Itself Apart During High-Altitude Test

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The in-development Starship rocket is key to SpaceX’s future plans, from lunar missions to Mars colonization. Elon Musk’s spaceflight company has been open with its Starship testing, even with the results haven’t been flattering. In the most recent test, the Starship SN11 reached an altitude of about eight kilometers, and then something went wrong. We don’t know exactly what happened yet, but the vessel came down in pieces. Musk quipped on Twitter that at least the crater was in the right place. Say what you will about Elon Musk, he’s pretty unflappable, even when his most ambitious aerospace project struggles to get off the ground. 

The Starship is being developed with reusability in mind like the Falcon 9. SpaceX envisions a fleet of reusable Starships that can take off, land, and then fly again after refueling. While it shares this property with the Falcon 9, the two devices don’t share hardware. The Starship is larger, made of different materials, and has new engines. 

SpaceX has thus far only succeeded in landing the rocket after a low altitude test. In the last flight, featuring SN10, the rocket flew high into the atmosphere, and then landed on the launch pad. It looked like everything would work out, but damage to the fuel system from the harder-than-expected landing led to an explosion several minutes later. The new SN11 flight looks like a step backward as it didn’t even reach the ground in one piece. 

The final image from the Starship (see above) live stream featured one of the craft’s three Raptor engines reigniting for the descent sequence. Contact with the vehicle was lost moments later. Musk said following the incident that the issue appeared to be with the number 2 engine, which didn’t reach operating pressure, but it shouldn’t have been needed to get the rocket on the ground safely. Something else, possibly related to the engine, occurred after the landing burn was supposed to start. However, SpaceX can’t begin to piece together the specifics until it can examine the debris later today. 

This failed test is one more potential setback for SpaceX’s aggressive timeline. Musk has said he hopes to fly a group of passengers, including Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, around the moon and back in 2023. He’s also pushed the idea that Starships could begin transporting Mars colonists in less than a decade, a timeline that most scientists consider unreasonable. Musk might not have a chance to convince everyone his vision is possible if the rocket doesn’t stop exploding.

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Post-Brexit trade talks to continue with 2 sides still ‘far apart,’ U.K. leader says

Throwing overboard Sunday’s self-imposed deadline, the European Union and Britain said they will “go the extra mile” to clinch a post-Brexit trade agreement that would avert New Year’s chaos and cost for cross-border commerce.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had set Sunday as the deadline for a breakthrough or breakdown in negotiations. But they stepped back from the brink because there was too much at stake not to make an ultimate push.

“Despite the exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations and despite the fact that deadlines have been missed over and over, we both think it is responsible at this point in time to go the extra mile,” von der Leyen said.

The negotiators were continuing to talk in Brussels at EU headquarters.

“I’m afraid we’re still very far apart on some key things, but where there is life, there’s hope, we’re going to keep talking to see what we can do. The U.K. certainly won’t be walking away from the talks,” Johnson told reporters.

EU won’t reach deal ‘at any price’

European Council President Charles Michel immediately welcomed the development and said “we should do everything to make a deal possible,” but warned there could be a deal “at any price, no. What we want is a good deal, a deal that respects these principles of economic fair play and, also, these principles of governance.”

With less than three weeks until the U.K.’s final split from the EU, key aspects of the future relationship between the 27-nation bloc and its former member remain unresolved.

Progress came after months of tense and often testy negotiations that gradually whittled differences down to three key issues: fair-competition rules, mechanisms for resolving future disputes and fishing rights.

It has been four and a half years since Britons voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU and — in the words of the Brexiteers’ slogan — “take back control” of the U.K.’s borders and laws.

It took more than three years of wrangling before Britain left the bloc’s political structures on Jan. 31. Disentangling economies that have become closely entwined as part of the EU’s single market for goods and services took even longer.

New year will bring changes

The U.K. has remained part of the single market and customs union during an 11-month post-Brexit transition period. That means so far, many people will have noticed little impact from Brexit.

On Jan. 1, it will feel real. New Year’s Day will bring huge changes, even with a deal. No longer will goods and people be able to move between the U.K. and its continental neighbours.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney on Sunday said he believed a post-Brexit trade deal could be reached and that both sides wanted one, but that negotiations really needed to be finalized in the next few days. (Virginia Mayo/The Associated Press)

Exporters and importers face customs declarations, goods checks and other obstacles. EU nationals will no longer be able to live and work in Britain without a visa — though that doesn’t apply to the more than 3 million already there — and Britons can no longer automatically work or retire in the EU.

There are still unanswered questions about huge areas, including security co-operation between the U.K. and the bloc and access to the EU market for Britain’s huge financial services sector.

WTO terms would apply without a deal

Without a deal the U.K. will trade with the bloc on World Trade Organization terms, with all the tariffs and barriers that would bring.

The U.K. government has acknowledged a chaotic exit is likely to bring gridlock at Britain’s ports, temporary shortages of some goods and price increases for staple foodstuff. Tariffs will be applied to many U.K. goods, including 10 per cent on cars and more than 40 per cent on lamb.

Still, Johnson says the U.K. will “prosper mightily” on those terms.

To jumpstart the flagging talks, negotiators have imposed several deadlines, but none have brought the sides closer together on the issues of fair trading standards, legal oversight of any deal and the rights of EU fishermen to go into U.K. waters.

WATCH | Johnson lays out negotiating position ahead of EU trade talks earlier this year:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson lays out negotiating position ahead of EU trade talks 1:21

While both sides want a deal on the terms of a new relationship, they have fundamentally different views of what it entails. The EU fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards and pump state money into U.K. industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on the bloc’s doorstep, so is demanding strict “level playing field” guarantees in exchange for access to its markets.

The U.K. government claims the EU is trying to bind Britain to the bloc’s rules and regulations indefinitely, rather than treating it as an independent nation.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya said a no-deal Brexit would be a “double whammy” for economies already battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is clear when you do a trade deal that you are a sovereign nation; they are made to manage interdependence,” she told Sky News. “The U.K. and the European Union are interdependent so let’s do a deal which reflects the need to manage this interdependence.”

Speculation about patrolling U.K. waters

Britain’s belligerent tabloid press urged Johnson to stand firm, and floated the prospect of Royal Navy vessels patrolling U.K. waters against intruding European vessels.

But others, in Britain and across the EU, urged the two sides to keep talking.

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin, whose economy is more entwined with Britain’s than any other EU state, said he “fervently” hoped the talks wouldn’t end Sunday.

“It is absolutely imperative that both sides continue to engage and both sides continue to negotiate to avoid a no-deal,” Martin told the BBC. “A no-deal would be very bad for all of us.

“Even at the 11th hour, the capacity in my view exists for the United Kingdom and the European Union to conclude a deal that is in all our interests.”

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Married for 68 years, this B.C. couple died 5 hours apart after testing positive for COVID-19

Juanita and Howard Robinson’s romance started with double dates and calls to “the dirt department” and ended more than 65 years later as they held hands on their final day together.

The Robinsons died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Amica Edgemont Village, a long-term care home in North Vancouver that has been the scene of an outbreak.

Juanita, 91, died at 8 p.m. on April 6. Five hours later, Howard died. He was 94. 

The facility reported the deaths in April, but now their family is telling their story.

“It just hasn’t quite hit that they’re not there,” the couple’s eldest daughter, Sharon Robinson, said last week. “We just had such a special, long time with them.”

Howard Robinson, left, and Juanita Robinson. This 2003 photo shows them at their son’s wedding. (Submitted by Sharon Robinson)

Many of the British Columbians who have died of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, were residents of long-term and assisted-living facilities.

“It’s so easy to say, ‘Oh, those people were old, they would have died anyway,'” the couple’s second daughter, Diana Coleman, said. 

“But they still added value to everyone’s life around them, not to mention their own family.

“They still had a lot to give and that was taken away from them.”

The Robinsons were living at the Amica Edgemont Village seniors’ care home in North Vancouver when they died. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The ‘dirt department’

Howard Robinson was born in Vancouver on Jan. 25, 1926, and grew up in the city.

In 1942, he began a 44-year career with CanCar Pacific, a heavy machinery company. He started as a machinist but eventually became general manager of the company.

At 17, he enlisted in the Canadian Army. He dealt with supplies and was deployed to the Netherlands and France late in the Second World War.

“It took its toll on him,” Robinson said. “He suffered as did many, many other very young men.”

Howard poses with Juanita as he prepares for the 2018 Remembrance Day ceremony at the Edgemont Village seniors’ home. Robinson was a corporal in the Canadian Army. (Submitted by Sharon Robinson)

He met Juanita Jackson shortly after the war through a co-worker and his wife. The four of them went on double dates.

Juanita was born in Vancouver on Aug. 12, 1928, and also grew up in the city.

She briefly worked as a secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture. Robinson and Coleman aren’t sure if it was the federal or provincial ministry.

In those days, Robinson said, several government departments could be reached with a single phone number.

When Howard wanted to talk to Juanita, he would dial it and ask for “the dirt department.”

Sharon Robinson looks at a needle point art piece made by her mother inside her North Vancouver home. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“That just drove her nuts,” Robinson said. “She didn’t want anyone to be thinking there was any disrespect for the Department of Agriculture.”

Howard and Juanita married in 1951 and moved to North Vancouver.

Juanita became a homemaker and raised three children. She survived breast cancer in the 1960s. All her life, she loved baking, gardening and making needlepoint art.

“She was a very clever, talented lady,” Robinson said.

In the summer of 2019, Howard and Juanita moved into Amica Edgemont Village.

A photo of Howard and Juanita Robinson on their 50th wedding anniversary at the Capilano Golf Club. For much of their lives, the golf club was a regular haunt for the Robinsons. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

‘Just like Leave It to Beaver

Both Coleman and Robinson described their parents as a team — they respected and complemented each other.

“It was just like Leave It to Beaver,” Coleman said.

Howard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, Robinson said. He also survived a heart attack and prostate cancer.

A photo from April 3 shows the couple talking to family on the phone while they stood outside their window. Seven of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren are seen in this photo, along with their daughter, Diana Coleman, who is in the back row, second from the right. (Submitted by Sharon Robinson)

They saw their family regularly, but in the past few weeks, those visits were through the window or on the phone as the couple self-isolated and visits were restricted.

“That was the best we could do,” Robinson said. “I just feel for everybody and anybody who’s got people in these care homes.”

Coleman said seniors killed by the coronavirus, like her parents, aren’t mere statistics.

“They were mom and dad, and Howard and Juanita, and grandma and grandpa, and great-grandma and great-grandpa,” Coleman said.

“We feel a void without their kindness, without their wisdom.”

To hear Diana Coleman remember her parents in an interview on The Early Edition, tap here.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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Was Interstellar Visitor ‘Oumuamua Torn Apart by a Star?

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You might remember ‘Oumuamua, the very first interstellar visitor astronomers ever detected in our solar system. This object is almost certainly not an alien spaceship, but it does have an extremely bizarre elongated shape. Now, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of California, Santa Cruz have put forth a hypothesis that could explain how ‘Oumuamua got to be so weird

Astronomers spotted ‘Oumuamua in October 2017 when it was already on its way out of the solar system. Its orbit and high speed confirmed it could not have come from any source inside our solar system, but it was impossible for any spacecraft to catch up to the mysterious space rock. Long-distance observations confirmed ‘Oumuamua was about 1,300 feet (400 meters) in length and just a few hundred feet wide. The scientific community went back and forth on whether ‘Oumuamua was an asteroid or a comet, eventually settling on a very, very old comet that doesn’t produce a visible coma of vaporized material. 

That didn’t explain how this icy hulk from beyond the stars acquired its spindly shape. The new analysis suggests that ‘Oumuamua could be a result of “extensive tidal fragmentation” in its home solar system. Tidal interactions are the result of high gravity on comparatively small objects. For example, the high gravity of Jupiter causes tidal heating in some of its moons. Tidal interactions also famously ripped comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into pieces before it collided with the planet in 1992.

The simulations developed for the new study show that tidal stresses from a star’s gravity could fracture an object like a comet or asteroid, imparting enough energy to eject the fragments from the system. The melted chunks would stretch into an elongated shape as they swing around the star. Moving away from the star would allow the fragments to cool and retain that stretched-out shape as they floated into interstellar space. 

‘Oumuamua (center) as seen in October 2017.

This is just a hypothetical simulation, but it would explain more than ‘Oumuamua’s unusual shape. The researchers note that heat diffusion during the tidal interaction would consume large amounts of volatile materials. That could explain ‘Oumuamua’s surface coloration and the lack of a coma. 

It didn’t take long after the discovery of ‘Oumuamua for scientists to spot a second interstellar traveler — 2I/Borisov appeared in the sky in fall 2019, looking like a very typical comet. This is probably just the beginning. With better technology, we’ll find more of these objects, allowing us to better understand their origins.

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NASA Tests Space Launch System Fuel Tank by Tearing It Apart

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Generally, you don’t want rocket fuel tanks to rupture because that probably means something is about to explode. The fuel is supposed to stay inside where it can explode in a controlled manner upon leaving the rocket. The exception to the no-rupture rule is when you’re testing a new design, and that’s where NASA is in the development of the long-delayed Space Launch System (SLS). You can see the vehicle’s main fuel tank blow wide open in the agency’s latest video. 

NASA conducted its latest round of testing on the SLS at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. When it’s complete, the SLS will be the most powerful rocket in the world, and that means it has to carry a lot of fuel. The large orange tank will hold liquid hydrogen fuel during missions, but it was empty for the test. Instead, NASA used large hydraulic pistons on the 215-foot test stand to compress, twist, and bend the tank until it fails. The goal is to show that it can survive forces even greater than it will experience during flight. 

This tank was specially outfitted with an array of sensors to record exactly how it failed, but it was otherwise identical to the tanks that will fly on the SLS. NASA also pointed high-speed cameras and ultra-sensitive microphones at the tank to record its final moments. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine just posted the video to Twitter, showing the tank blow apart in spectacular fashion. 

NASA reports that the tank withstood 260 percent of the expected flight load during the test. That’s within 3 percent of the tank’s expected failure point. NASA didn’t detect any premature buckling or cracking in the walls as the pressure ramped up, indicating the tank design will perform as expected in the SLS. 

In addition to the liquid fuel engines, the SLS will also have a pair of giant solid rocket boosters helping it get off the ground. Together, they will have enough power to hoist large payloads into space and make manned missions to the moon and Mars a reality. Currently, NASA expects to conduct an uncrewed flight of the SLS and Orion capsule (Artemis 1) in late 2020. The Orion spacecraft will orbit the moon and return to Earth. The SLS will carry its first human passengers into space in 2022 or 2023.

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Nicole Scherzinger Reveals Her ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Mirrorball ‘Fell Apart in Pieces’ (Exclusive)

Nicole Scherzinger Reveals Her ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Mirrorball ‘Fell Apart in Pieces’ (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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NASA’s TESS Satellite Spots Star Being Ripped Apart by Black Hole

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NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is orbiting the Earth to search for alien worlds, but it spotted something much different recently. NASA says TESS observed a rare phenomenon known as a “tidal disruption event.” As TESS watched from a safe distance, a star spiraled toward a black hole before being torn to shreds.

TESS is a followup to the dearly departed Kepler Space Telescope. Whereas Kepler focused on small parts of the sky out to great distances, TESS aims to search for exoplanets across the entire sky out to a distance of about 300 light years. It uses the same transit method as Kepler for spotting exoplanets: when a planet passes in front of its host star, there’s a small dip in brightness. TESS watches for changes in brightness, and that’s how it spotted the tidal disruption event. 

The data from TESS shows a distant object getting brighter over the course of several days in January 2019. A tidal disruption event like this occurs when a star passes too close to a black hole. It becomes trapped in the black hole’s gravity and spirals in toward the event horizon. In the process, the extreme gravity breaks the star apart into an elongated stream of gas. Some of the matter escapes into space, but most of it forms an accretion disk around the black hole and is eventually consumed. 

TESS saw the first hint of the event now known as ASASSN-19bt on January 21st, 2019. It took place about 375 million light years away in a galaxy called 2MASX J07001137-6602251. The black hole is believed to be 6 million times as massive as the sun. Luckily, the break-up of the star was quite bright, and it happened in the satellite’s continuous viewing zone above the south pole. 

TESS only transmits data to Earth every two weeks, and it needs to be processed at NASA’s Ames Research Center before anyone can evaluate it. So, no one knew TESS had seen ASASSN-19bt until March. The All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) is a network of robotic telescopes designed to detect events like ASASSN-19bt. However, ASAS-SN didn’t see the event until a week after TESS. Astronomers were able to gather data from ASASSN-19bt with the ASAS-SN array as usual before they knew anything about TESS’s observation. 

Having the data from TESS allows scientists to track how ASASSN-19bt behaved when it was still too dim for other instruments to see. The smooth increase in brightness detected by TESS also confirms this was a tidal disruption event and not another high-energy outbursts like a supernova. The TESS observational campaign is still ongoing, so there’s still time to spot some more tidal disruption events. We’re hoping for exoplanets, too.

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Almost torn apart last season, Team Jacobs feeling rejuvenated at Brier

BRANDON, Man. — There was an undeniable placidity to Brad Jacobs as he walked off the ice after a dominating first game victory Saturday afternoon at the 2019 Brier.

Calm, poised, and smiling he briefly celebrated with his teammates third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden.

Jacobs then stepped in front of the bright lights and throng of waiting media in the bowels of Westoba Place to answer questions about their 10-2 win over Brendan Bottcher's wild card team.

"I would say that this was one of the calmest Team Jacobs you've seen at the Brier," Jacobs began.

None of this is new to Jacobs, making his 11th Brier appearance, but in some ways this year's championship is a completely new experience for the northern Ontario team.

It wasn't all that long ago the brash and boisterous bunch of curlers were the team to beat. It was as if overnight they rose to curling stardom, winning the 2013 Brier, then the Olympic trials and then Olympic gold in Russia in 2014.

Canada skip Brad Jacobs celebrates with Ryan Fry, E.J.Harnden (left) and Ryan Harnden (right) in February of 2014 in Sochi, Russia. After a few years of Brier playoff losses and defeat in the 2017 Olympic trials, the rink is returning to the top of their game. (File/The Canadian Press)

"We were just young and I think we were naïve and didn't know what we were doing. We were passionate about the game and winning," Jacobs said.  "We got all the right breaks and played extremely well. But as you stay together as a team you go through that storming faze."

It was brewing for years.

They fist-pumped when they made great shots. They slammed their brooms on the ice when the missed shots. They were dubbed the bad boys of curling and didn't mind it because they were winning.

But what happens to all of that pizazz when the winning stops? What remains? Jacobs has been thinking about these questions since his last big bonspiel win. These last five years have been frustrating — strong round-robin appearances at the Brier only to lose in the playoffs and a loss at the 2017 Olympic trials.

Skip Brad Jacobs and third Ryan Fry look on during their team's loss to Team Epping at the 2017 Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic Trials in Ottawa on in December of 2017. (File/The Canadian Press)

It almost broke apart Team Jacobs.

"I think at the end of last year our team was at a teetering point," Jacobs revealed. "Yes, we decided to stick together but we had one of two directions to go and that was either down or up."

Becoming mentally tough

Jacobs is candid about what has been lacking from their team since their Olympic gold triumph.

"We felt our only deficiency was the mental aspect of the game. It was crucial to find an expert in that field and send us off on the right trajectory," Jacobs said. 

So they hired Rachel Homan's former coach Adam Kingsbury. He's obsessed with the mental aspects of sports and what makes athletes thrive in defining moments.

Kingsbury says the team was so open to change and growth not only in curling but in life.

"It's been a special year and they've been great," Kingsbury said. "Watching them come together like this has been incredible."

Kingsbury is based in Ottawa and the team curls out of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., making it difficult to get a lot of one-on-one time in together. But Kingsbury says he's in constant contact with the team and tries to get to as many of their events as possible.

"I spend a lot of time every week talking to those guys. I talk to Brad multiple times a week. [It] could be 30 seconds, [it] could be for two hours," Kingsbury said.

They talk about being vulnerable, trusting one another on the ice in pressure-packed moments and remembering to have fun and stay in the moment. 

"I believe that all of us as people, if we're not continuing to learn and grow, we're not getting anywhere," Jacobs said. "It doesn't matter if we've won the Olympics or this event, too. It's all about trying to learn and grow as people."

Kingsbury says the transformation for this team throughout the season has been remarkable to watch. 

"Those are four guys who are really committed right now and really trust each other. They're enjoying each other's company," he said.

Fry refocused after taking leave

But the curling season has not been without turbulence for Team Jacobs. In late November, Jamie Koe, Ryan Fry, Chris Schille, and DJ Kidby were all kicked out of the Alberta World Curling Tour bonspiel for "unacceptable behaviour," which included being "extremely drunk."

Organizers said Fry broke three brooms and that the team used foul language and was disruptive to other players on the ice. All four players later issued statements to apologize for their actions.

In the days that followed, Fry said he would be taking an indefinite leave from the team to work on personal growth and self-improvement.

Fry made his return to the team at the Slam event in North Battleford, Sask., at the beginning of January and then helped the team to their provincial win to get to the Brier.

Fry says getting back with his teammates prior to the Brier was an important step in feeling comfortable on the ice again.  

"Once you get over the initial shock of everything and put it behind you, it's always nice to get out there. You have to face that music and see everybody and talk to people like you," he said.

"It's nice to be right back rolling with the boys."

Fry, like Jacobs, seems committed to personal growth and improvement and now hopes it leads to a Brier win in Brandon.

"We're a professional curling team and we treat one another that way. It's been great over the last couple months really working on strengthening our team and coming up with the best product."

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Whitecaps tear apart Quakes for 1st-ever playoff win

Cristian Techera scored on a stunning free kick as the Vancouver Whitecaps thumped the San Jose Earthquakes 5-0 in Major League Soccer’s single-elimination knockout round on Wednesday night.

Nicolas Mezquida, with two, Fredy Montero and Kendall Waston had the other goals for Vancouver, which picked up its first-ever playoff victory since joining MLS in 2011.

Whitecaps dominate Earthquakes, advance to West semifinals1:22

The third-seeded Whitecaps will now face the Seattle Sounders, who finished second in the Western Conference, in a home and away aggregate semifinal series that starts Sunday at B.C. Place Stadium.

After setting up Montero’s opener in the first half, the pint-sized Techera curled a left-footed free kick over the wall and into the top corner from 30 yards out past a helpless Andrew Tarbell in the 57th minute to send the crowd of 21,083 into a frenzy.

Waston added Vancouver’s third seven minutes later off a corner — the Whitecaps’ third set-piece goal of the night and 18th of the season — after the ball pinged around the San Jose penalty area before being bundled over the line.

Mezquida, who subbed on in the 68th minute, then grabbed back-to-back goals in 78th and 80th to complete the romp as the Whitecaps scored five goals in a game for the first time this year.

Montero gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute after a nervy start when Waston redirected a Techera corner right to the designated player, who made no mistake from in close.

The Whitecaps could have avoided Wednesday’s winner-take-all encounter with a victory over the Earthquakes at home on Oct. 15 in a game that ended 1-1, or by grabbing at least a draw in Sunday’s 2-1 road loss to the Portland Timbers.

Vancouver instead limped to the regular-season finish line with a 1-3-1 record, but were full marks on this night in securing the club’s first playoff win after three losses and a draw in four previous tries.

San Jose had a decent opportunity to equalize while down 1-0 less than a minute into the second half when Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic had to be sharp on Chris Wondolowski’s shot from in tight, but after a couple more half chances, that would be it for San Jose.

With the stadium’s retractable roof open on a chilly night, Vancouver started tentatively and was almost made to pay in the fourth minute when Anibal Godoy forced a leaping save out of Marinovic on a free kick from 25 yards out.


Kendall Waston of the Whitecaps celebrates during Vancouver’s 5-0 win on Wednesday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The hosts looked nervous with a number of errant passes and giveaways early on, but started to play better as the half wore on and looked the more likely side to score when Montero finally broke through.

Whitecaps left back Marcel de Jong came close five minutes later after the Earthquakes could only partially clear a free kick, but Tarbell made a nice save on the Canadian international’s low drive.

Vancouver returned to the MLS Cup playoffs after missing out by eight points in 2016, while sixth-seeded San Jose made the post-season for the first time since 2012 thanks to Sunday’s dramatic 3-2 stoppage-time victory over Minnesota United.

The Earthquakes’ bizarre regular-season that included a minus-21 goal difference — good for third-worst in all MLS — saw the club get outscored lose by two goals or more in 12 of its 14 defeats by a combined score of 42-6.

Since the league expanded its playoff format in 2011, five of the 16 teams to advance from the knockout round have made the MLS Cup, with three clubs winning it all, including the last two years.

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