Despite the blemish of two late goals from Fresno, the San Jose Earthquakes registered a solid 3-2 victory against the Fuego on Saturday night. Center Line Soccer's Embele Awipi was on hand for the action and offers these notes from the game, as well as a minute-by-minute match report and brief post-game comments from Ike Opara and Frank Yallop— editor.
FRESNO — Neither rain nor sleet nor CBA could keep the game from happening. In front of about a thousand fans, San Jose dominated play but held off a late charge to win 3-2 against The Fresno Fuego. Goals from Bobby Convey and trialists Omar Jessey and Javier Robles gave the Quakes a 3-0 lead in their first regulation exhibition before the hosts pulled back two goals in the last ten minutes.
In the previous 24 hours, a rainstorm pounded Fresno leading to a slick field and a smaller-than anticipated crowd. With Joe Cannon taking the night off to rest an aching hip, San Jose's starters were Andrew Weber in goal; a back line of Ramiro Corrales, Ike Opara, Jason Hernandez, and Chris Leitch; Brad Ring, Javier Robles, Bobby Convey, and Joey Gjertsen in midfield; and Cornell Glen partnering Ryan Johnson up top.
6th minute: Convey got a good break down the left but couldn't get his shot off before the ball was knocked out of bounds.
14th: Argentine trialist Javier Robles took free kick 25 yards over the wall, but Fuego keeper Ryan Kenny punched it away.
15th: After a Fresno free kick, an attempted bicycle by Fuego captain Amaury Nunes was snagged by Weber.
20th: Convey intercepted a pass and sent it to Cornell Glen. He crossed to Gjertsen who sent it too high.
21st: Robles earned a yellow card for a tackle from behind.
31st: The first good chance for Fuego forward Albert Naugle was fed from the right side, but he smashed it high from 14 yards.
37th: GOAL! A Chris Leitch cross from the right deflected off Glen past a Fresno defender to Convey, who blasted it into the net.
39th: A fast counter by Fresno ended up as goal kick as Jason Hernandez slid to prevent a shot.
40th: Fresno's Nunes took it to Weber but a foul is called.
41st: Ryan Johnson passed on the ground to Glen, but his shot was saved.
44th: GOAL! 2-0 San Jose's pressure paid off as Robles pounced on a rebound and drilled it up the middle.
San Jose made mass changes to the lineup, with only Opara and Robles remaining. Instead, in goal, Mike Graczyk; a back four of Steven Beitashour, Aaron Pitchkolan, and Justin Morrow joining Opara; Gambian trialist Omar Jessey, Antonio Ribeiro, Robles, and Chris Wondolowksi in midfield; and Quincy Amarikwa with Uruguayan trialist Javier Guarino at forward.
50th: A freekick from Robles let Opara win a corner. That resulted in a cross by Robles to Opara, but his shot was too high.
The counter by Fresno resulted in a cross but no one was there to hit the center pass.
58th: Goal! 3-0 The speedy Jessey got a pass from Amarikwa, split two defenders, and hit the ball in at the far post from nine yards.
63rd: A quick restart by Fresno turned into a cross but there was no one on the far post.
66th: An Amarikwa header was saved as Fresno keeper Ryan Kenny knocked it out for corner. Kenny was perhaps fortunate not to be called for a penalty as Amarikwa was knocked down in the process.
72nd: Amarikwa got a head to a Wondolowski corner, but Kenny punched the shot away.
83rd: GOAL! 3-1 Fresno gave its fans something to cheer about as Nehemias Blanco dribbled around Gracyk on the left side and tapped it at goal. Opara was there to clear it off the line but Brazilain forward Rodrigo Vianna Ferriera pounced on the rebound to make it 3-1.
89th: GOAL! 3-2 Fresno midfielder Scott Binford slid to win a 50-50 ball on a quick restart to cross it to towering Mihailo Jovanovich, who headed it to the roof of the net.
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Head coach Frank Yallop
On Javier Robles who went the full 90 and scored a goal:
He's only been here a week or so, so I gave him 90 minutes. He got tired at the end but looked good. He's been out of season a little bit.
On the team's play:
The two goals at the end left a sour taste.
In general, you look at the scoreline and you think it's a close game. We're up 2-nil at halftime and feeling pretty comfortable. Making a lot of changes disrupts your side, and I thought some of our guys struggled a little the second half, especially defensively. The reason I played players is to find out about them, so we found out some things I wasn't happy with.
It's a bit of a fitness thing for us right now. I took a lot of guys off at halftime and gave some guys a runout to see what they are all about.
I have a couple midterms on thursday and then I'm looking to get back with the team in London. I leave right after so it's perfect timing.
On playing the full 90 in his debut:
It's a good feeling to be with the team — I wanted to be here. Tonight I thought the team defending was good until the last 15 minutes. It's something to work, to stay focused for the whole 90. It's a little bittersweet; we got the W but aren't happy with the two goals we gave up at the end.
On his individual play, especially his corner taking and heading.
That's one thing I want to bring to the team, a dynamic set piece with my ability in the air. I didn't put it away, unfortunately, but it's something to get better at. Hopefully that goes in the back of the net come the season. Right now, it's just working the kinks out.