The San Jose Earthquakes left it late, but goals from JJ Koval and Billy Schuler were enough to dispatch of Sacramento Republic FC 2-0 in a preseason friendly at CCU Stanislaus in Turlock.
The Quakes, less than a week away from hosting Liga MX's Toluca in the opener of their two-leg CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on March 11, fielded a strong Starting XI against their USL PRO affiliate, but, despite dictating momentum from the opening whistle, could not find a goal for the first 85 minutes of the game. By the time Koval found the back of the net, San Jose had already made a raft of substitutions.
Koval, the Earthquakes' first round selection in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, found himself in the right place at the right time as the rookie midfielder gave San Jose the lead in the 86th minute. A cross into the box from Walter Martinez found target forward Alan Gordon at the far post, and he rose high to head the ball back across the mouth of goal. With Republic goalkeeper Jake Gleeson contending with Gordon, Koval was able to stride in to redirect the ball into the back of the net from close range for his first goal as an Earthquake.
Gordon, who had surgery in the offseason to correct a nerve issue in his foot, recently returned to full training with the Earthquakes and with his 71st minute substitution entry against Sacramento made his first preseason appearance for San Jose in the 2-0 victory.
Schuler's insurance goal in stoppage time marked his first goal of the preseason and secured the victory for the Earthquakes. The former All-American at North Carolina joined the Quakes in early January via a weighted lottery conducted by MLS. Schuler, who pronounced himself "100% fit" earlier in the week, has proven to be a very effective withdrawn forward in the preseason.
The Quakes next match is Tuesday, March 11, against Toluca at Buck Shaw Stadium in the first leg of the CCL quarterfinals. Kick off is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Game Notes: Both Sam Garza and David Bingham were among the substitutes employed by head coach Mark Watson, as the pair take a break from their loan to the NASL's San Antonio Scorpions in order to bolster San Jose's depth through the duration of the team's Champions League run . . . Bingham entered the game in the 81st minute after starting goalkeeper Jon Busch had to exit due to gash above his brow. The injury was not deemed serious, and it was confirmed after the game that Busch would be available for Tuesday's CCL clash with Toluca . . . As part of the Earthquakes affiliation agreement with Sacramento, San Jose will send at least two players on loan to the Republic; however, those players have not yet been announced by the club.
Starting Line-Up and Substitutions: Jon Busch (David Bingham 81), Brandon Barklage (Brian Niel 71), Jason Hernandez (Joe Sofia 71), Clarence Goodson (Ty Harden 71), Jordan Stewart (Shaun Francis 71), Cordell Cato (Sam Garza 71), Sam Cronin (Khari Stephenson 71), Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi (JJ Koval 71), Atiba Harris (Walter Martinez 71), Chris Wondolowski (Billy Schuler 71), Adam Jahn (Alan Gordon 71).