In a match that was billed as "The Battle for Buck Shaw" the San Jose Earthquakes beat their stadium cotenants Santa Clara University 4-1 on Tuesday evening. Four first half goals for the Quakes, including three in a seven minute barrage, put the result to rest before the Broncos pulled one back late in the second half. San Jose will look to carry their momentum from this friendly as the team leaves for Chicago tomorrow, where they continue their MLS campaign against the Fire in a Saturday evening match.A balanced attack from the San Jose first team kept Santa Clara on their heels throughout the first 45 minutes. The line-up, one expected to start Saturday's game in Chicago, was as follows:
Ryan Johnson - Arturo Alvarez
Bobby Convey - Andre Luiz - Brandon McDonald - Joey Gjertsen
Ramiro Corrales - Ike Opara - Jason Hernandez - Steve Beitashour
The midfield was definitely slanted toward a diamond formation, with McDonald securing the holding midfielder position in front of the back four. Andre Luiz was much more active in the attack versus his performance against Real Salt Lake.
It was primarily one-way traffic toward the Broncos' goal, as the Quakes took advantage of their superior talent. Convey was particularly active on the left wing, where he easily beat his defender off the dribble, and found the space to deliver crosses into the area. Johnson, on three occasions, was unable to finish the deliveries, showing the pair are still finding their groove in creating scoring opportunities.
Andre Luiz, looking more fit than during the home opener, orchestrated some fine possession from the center of midfield. In the 13th minute, he took a pass from Convey and turned upfield. Spying Gjertsen on the wing, he threaded a pass through the defense that met the midfielder at the corner of the penalty area. Gjersten shook off his defender with two deft left foot touches before unleashing a rocket from just right of the top of the area. His left foot shot easily beat the ‘keeper for the first goal of the game. (And yes, as the @SJEarthquakes twitter page announced, I did applaud that shot. Incidentally, I also called the play before it happened, just as Andre Luiz found Gjertsen with just one defender to beat!)
The second goal of the game came out of nowhere. With the Quakes utilizing overlapping runs on both wings as they carried possession into the Bronco half, one innocent looking development in the 31st minute turned into a work of beauty. With Convey tracking back with the ball, he laid it off for Corrales to carry into the attacking third. Taking just one touch, Corrales sent a rocket toward goal that caromed off the bottom of the crossbar just inside the far post for the goal. This was a 35 yarder that would clearly win MLS Goal of the Week honors if it were eligible. The unofficial crowd of 127 spectators ooohed in appreciation.
In the 36th minute, and with a new Bronco ‘keeper to punish, Johnson got his name on the scoresheet with a clinical 1 v. 1 finish. Taking a perfectly weighted pass from Andre Luiz and beating the offside trap, Johnson took one touch before slotted the ball just out of reach of the onrushing ‘keeper. The ball was very similar to the scoring opportunity Johnson had against Real Salt Lake, but without Nick Rimando there to parry away the shot. By keeping the ball close to him as he broke through on goal, Johnson didn't allow space for the save to be made this time around.
Two minutes later, Alvarez completed the scoring for the Earthquakes, as he received a McDonald free kick from the center line, and weaved his way through the Broncos defense. He dribbled left, then left again, then took a touch to the left before cutting a left footed shot inside the far post. Alvarez being Alvarez on that goal.
The half ended with the score 4-0, and a clear advantage to the Quakes in all aspects of the game. Santa Clara twice had corner kicks that gave the defenders pause in front of goal, but the Broncos were unable to get off a single shot on goal. Mission accomplished for the back four, as they played distributor more than defense in the first half.
The Earthquakes made wholesale changes in the second half, where they fielded the following line-up:
Eduardo - Cornell Glen
Javier Robles - Ramon Sanchez - Chris Wondolowski - Omar Jassey
Justin Morrow - Bobby Burling - Ike Opara - Chris Leitch
The action in the second half was a bit more balanced, but still tilted in the Quakes favor. They had numerous chances from the dangerous play of Jassey on the right wing, as well as the fine posting up of Eduardo in front of the penalty area. Shots from Robles and Glen that would normally be goals flashed agonizingly close to the woodwork on at least three occasions. In fact, the Santa Clara ‘keeper made few saves in the half, as most of the Quakes efforts were off frame.
In the 61st minute, Jassey pressed the ball down the right flank, before shaking a defender and delivering a cross to the chest of Glen. He directed the ball toward goal, and then tried to deftly chip the ‘keeper, but the ball bounced off the roof of the net.
Two minutes later, it was Leitch feeding a perfect lobbed cross to Glen, who this time directed the ball into the path of the onrushing Wondolowski. His one-timer from the top of the 18 flew just over the crossbar.
Eduardo spent most of the half playing as a post-up forward, using his size and strength to keep away defenders and create space to distribute the ball. In the 71st minute, he received the ball in space on the right side and took it down to the byline. Employing the type of move exemplified by the Brazilian way, he sent his defender kicking at air as he turned toward goal. A couple cross-over steps, then a nice pass to Glen, who had his shot altered at the last moment by a defender, completed the play. While they didn't score, it was the kind of sequence that gets you on your feet watching it all develop.
One moment of caution came in the 80th minute, as Opara subbed himself out with what looked like a leg stitch. Nothing too serious on first evaluation, but we'll find out more tomorrow. On a better note, Brad Ring entered the game for Opara, as it looks like he has healed up from his nagging hamstring injury.
Santa Clara scored their goal in the 82nd minute after a poorly cleared corner kick from the Quakes defense. The ball bounced around in the box before being sent toward goal. Leitch was almost in position to make a play on the line, but a Bronco player bundled the ball into the net for the goal. The final whistle came minutes later and the final score was 4-1 in favor of San Jose.
This was definitely a match for the Earthquakes to work their first team against a new set of defenders (besides the intrasquad scrimmages that are the daily norm.) Andre Luiz and Convey looked particularly effective in the first half. Beitashour and Gjertsen on the right side worked well together, but still show room for improvement in their familiarity with each other. With Alvarez playing more as a withdrawn forward, he and Andre Luiz had the chance to work the ball more in the center of the field. When the defense collapsed into that space, it freed up plenty of room on the flank for Convey to work forward and deliver quality crosses into the area.
Three players who didn't appear in the game were Scott Sealy, Jon Busch, and Quincy Amarikwa. Sealy's paperwork is not officially completed yet, and he spent the two hours working on the side with the others. Busch did pregame workouts with the other ‘keepers, but was given the night off after that. Amarikwa as not present at the game; his status for the evening was unknown.