McLoughlin brace leads San Jose Earthquakes reserves past Santa Clara University Broncos 3-0
With bragging rights to Buck Shaw Stadium at stake on Tuesday afternoon, the San Jose Earthquakes reserves beat the Santa Clara University men’s soccer team 3-0. Behind two goals from forward Ellis McLoughlin and one from his striking partner Matt Luzunaris, the Quakes dispatched of the Broncos with relative ease in the 80 minute match on the home pitch of both teams. Goalkeeper David Bingham had little to do in goal, and recorded the clean sheet for San Jose.
The Earthquakes fielded a starting XI that lined up in a 4-4-2 formation and featured the following players: Bingham, Steven Beitashour, Ike Opara, Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow, Omar Jasseh, Sam Cronin, Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Rafael Baca, McLoughlin, and Luzunaris. The bench was not well defined, but would come into play later in the match.
The early minutes of the game saw both sides looking to establish some pace to the game, with the Broncos pressing early and earning a pair of corner kicks. In the 9th minute, an outswinging corner kick from SCU found a Bronco with space in the area, and he turned on the ball and set it beyond the reach of a slipping Bingham. Ampaipitakwong was playing the post, and alertly deflected the shot away for another corner. Bingham appeared to hurt his hamstring while slipping on the play, but after a short visit from the training staff, continued to play for the rest of the afternoon.
In the 15th minute, the Earthquakes earned a corner kick that Cronin sent into the area. Rising nearly a foot over anyone on the Broncos defense, Opara met the cross and sent the ball caroming off the top of the crossbar. The goal frame shook on the shot attempt, but the ball deflected over the byline for a goal kick.
Santa Clara should have taken the lead in the 24th minute, as the Bronco’s right winger took the ball to the byline before cutting it back through traffic to the top of the six yard box. Cutting just inside Burling, the Broncos forward whiffed at the free ball with only Bingham to beat.
With the game tilting more toward the Earthquakes, Cronin found space in the 32nd minute to try a shot from distance — roughly the same spot on the field where against Vancouver his parried shot led to Wondolowski’s goal — but it skimmed over the Buck Shaw turf just wide of the left post. Earlier on the play, Quakes assistant coach Ian Russell, emergency subbing for the injured Omar Jasseh, kept the play alive with a clever nutmeg on his marker before sending the ball through the midfield.
With the match being played in two 40 minute halves, the halftime whistle soon came with the score still 0-0. The Quakes were finding ample space down the left side of the field through the work of Baca and Morrow. The second year defender made overlapping runs deep into Santa Clara territory, and had a pair of good crosses that went wanting in front of goal. Baca drifted from the touchline to near central as he found space to work the ball with Morrow outside and Ampai inside. He even had a nice headed attempt on goal from a Beitashour cross late in the half that went just over the crossbar.
When the two teams retook the field, Russell retreated back to his role with the coaching staff and Joey Gjertsen came in to spell the Earthquakes legend. Gjertsen, while still coming back into full fitness, played an excellent half of soccer against the Broncos, and proved pivotal in assisting Cronin with some nifty possession. Looking to break the scoreless tie in the 45th minute, Gjertsen took a pass from Cronin 25 yards from goal, cut back on his defender, and sent a venomous shot over the crossbar.
A minute later, the Broncos had their best scoring opportunity of the second half go for naught, as Opara was turned on an entry pass, but the shot on target was smothered by a diving Bingham.
Burling was next in line to try to break through the Broncos defense as he jumped high in the air to challenge the goalkeeper on a lofted cross into the area. He won the contest, but sent his header just wide of the target.
The Earthquakes finally tallied on the afternoon after some aggressive play from Baca on the goalkeeper forced a turnover just inside the area. Spinning to find space, Baca sent the ball across the penalty spot for Luzunaris to neatly finish with an overhead volley into the exposed goal. The 51st minute strike was finished with aplomb, but was all the product of the pressure Baca exerted in chasing down the ‘keeper.
In the 56th minute, Baca was at it again, as his upfield pressure led to a poor clearing pass from the SCU left back that found its way to Gjertsen. Picking a lane through the defense, Gjertsen sent a perfectly weighted ball into the path of an onrushing McLoughlin. The Quakes rookie, perhaps scuffing the ball slightly, eschewed his normal blasting shot for a well placed ball outside the reach of the goalkeeper and just inside the far post.
The Broncos tried to answer minutes later after earning a free kick deep in Quakes territory, but some trickier prior to the kick did not fool the San Jose defenders’ wall, and the shot soared harmlessly over the goal.
With the midfield duo of Ampaipitakwong and Cronin marshalling possession, the Earthquakes found plenty of space on the wings. In the 79th minute, Cronin spied Beitashour making a clean overlapping run into the attacking third and delivered a ball right into his path. Beitahour and Cronin then executed a perfect give-and-go that led the Quakes defender past his marker and into the area. He dribbled the ball on the byline before striking a hard cross into the six yard box that was met by McLoughlin. His one-touch finish gave the ‘keeper no chance to make the save, and the Earthquakes rookie had his second goal of the afternoon.
The final whistle sounded on the abbreviated scrimmage with the Earthquakes winning on a 3-0 score. In the defeat to San Jose, Santa Clara joined fellow Bay Area collegiate sides California and Stanford in falling to the Quakes reserves this spring. Over those three contests, the Earthquakes have also recorded three clean sheets. Up next for San Jose, on the same field at Buck Shaw Stadium, comes a Saturday evening visit from the New England Revolution.