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Ike Opara leads San Jose Earthquakes to U.S. Open Cup qualifier victory with last minute extra time goal

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Ike Opara heads in the game winner to advance San Jose past Portland in qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup.
Ike Opara heads in the game winner to advance San Jose past Portland in qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup.

Ike Opara waited nearly 120 minutes before finally making good contact on a San Jose Earthquakes set piece, finishing off a cross from Sam Cronin that barely snuck inside the post to eliminate the Portland Timbers from a second round U.S. Open Cup qualifier. The header from Opara seems to drift tantalizingly close to Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins before settling into the side netting and sending the Earthquakes less into celebration and more into relief. And after surviving an indeterminable amount of stoppage time at the end of extra time, the team marched off the field with their first U.S. Open Cup victory since reforming and rejoining MLS in 2008.

The starting line-up for the Earthquakes featured a fair number of first teamers while Portland sent out mainly reserves. The Earthquakes did well to control the pace of the game for much of the night, but a tricky artificial turf surface made for some very awkward touches from the players. And too often, both teams resorted to long ball tactics instead of steady possession which did little to make for an attractive display of soccer. Add in the countless yellow cards issued to both teams — and not a single red card — and numerous stoppages of play and this match was not one for rewatching. Still, with Opara’s late goal and some resolute defending from all the Quakes, the team can now look forward to a winner-take-all qualifier match with the Chicago Fire for the right to enter the tournament proper in the round of 16.

Did you follow the match online or on the radio? Were you in attendance at Jeld-Wen Field to watch the nearly 3 hour marathon? Who was your Quakes MVP? Share your thoughts on the match below.