Vancouver Whitecaps FC have lived and died with set pieces in 2017.
A clinical performance Wednesday helped the cub to its first ever victory in the League Cup.
Cristian Techera scored on a stunning free kick before Vancouver poured it on late in a 5-0 drubbing of San Jose Earthquakes in the Major League's first round.
The Whitecaps scored 15 goals off dead ball situations during the season and added three more in what turned into a dominating night after some early jitters.
"If you work hard at things you get your rewards," said Vancouver manager Carl Robinson. "We've got the takers, the deliverers of balls, and we've also got people who can get on the end of things."
"Anyone who comes by our training sees the amount of work we spend on it."
Fredy Montero, Kendall Waston, and Nicolás Mezquida with two, had the other goals for Vancouver, which had last three and drawn one in four previous League Cup matches.
"I'm delighted for everyone involved with the football club tonight, and everyone involved with the city," said Robinson. "We needed a little bit of success, and we got a little bit of success today.
"But that's all it is."
The third seed Whitecaps will now face Seattle Sounders FC, who finished second in the Western Division, and won last year's League Cup, in a home and away aggregate semifinal that starts Sunday at BC Place.
"We're playing against the champs," added Robinson. "We know we're going to be underdogs. I like the underdog role."
After setting up Montero's opener in the first half, the pint sized Techera curled a left footed volley 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 frenzy.
Waston added Vancouver's third goal seven minutes later, off a corner after the ball pinged around the San Jose penalty area before being bundled over the line.
Mezquida, who came on in the 68th minute, then scored in 78th and 80th minutes to complete the romp, as the Whitecaps scored five times in a game for the first time since 2003.
"There were a number of top class performances," said Robinson. "The heart and the desire and determination to want to win the game... the boys don't quit."
Montero gave Vancouver a one goal lead in the 33rd minute, after a nervy opening when Waston redirected a Techera corner right to the designated player, who made no mistake from in close.
The Colombian striker said he's never been on a team that has relied this much on set pieces for offence.
"This is something unique," said Montero. "We [believe] we can keep hurting teams with this weapon."
Vancouver returned to the League Cup after missing out by eight points in 2016, while sixth seeded San Jose made the cup for the first time since 2012, thanks to Sunday's dramatic 3-2 stoppage time victory over Minnesota United FC.
The Whitecaps could have avoided Wednesday's winner take all encounter with a victory in New Jersey on October 7th in a game they lost 3-0, the Earthquakes at home on October 15th in a game that ended 1-1, or by grabbing at least a draw in a 2-1 weekend road loss to the Portland Timbers.
Vancouver instead limped to the finish line with a 1-3-1 record, but were full marks on this night.
"We talked about set pieces being a huge key," said Earthquakes manager Chris Leitch. "That was the element that was really our Achilles heel."
San Jose had a decent opportunity to equalise while down 1-0, when less than a minute into the second half, Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinović 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 evening, Vancouver started tentatively and was almost made to pay in the fourth minute when Anibal Godoy forced a leaping save out of Marinović on a free kick from 25 yards out.
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.
"You saw what it meant to the players and the club," said Robinson. "We were so determined to get that first playoff win, and we did.
"Did we do it style? Yeah, we probably did."
On Sunday at 5:30 PM, Vancouver will host Seattle Sounders FC in the second round of the League Cup, before visiting the Emerald City on Thursday for the all important second leg at 7:30 PM.