SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Less than a week after closing down the old home of the San Francisco 49ers, venerable Candlestick Park, the San Jose Earthquakes were opening the Niners' new home, luxurious Levi's Stadium.
With a crowd of 48,765 in attendance at the first sporting event at the $1.3 billion South Bay stadium, the Quakes topped best in the west Seattle Sounders 1-0 on a goal by Yannick Djalo just before halftime.
"It was a fantastic win for us," said head coach Mark Watson. "It was three points we were desperate for. In the end, it was a real gritty finish to the game. The guys stuck together and withstood some pressure and held on for a great win and three points."
Following Djalo's goal, goalkeeper Jon Busch and defense did the rest, holding the Sounders at bay throughout a frenetic second half.
"Jon was great again," said Watson. "He is a consummate professional. He tends to make things look quite easy. He's always in the right spot at the right time, such great anticipation on the ball. We were under a lot of pressure, especially in the last ten minutes, and he continually came up big for us. It was another great performance from Buschy."
After being called on to make a single save in the first half, Busch faced 14 shots on target by the Sounders in the second stanza, and he saved seven of them. The biggest save of the night came from Chris Wondolowski close to the end of regulation, as the forward, stationed on the post, headed away a goal-bound effort from Chad Barrett.
"We were strong defensively tonight," added Busch. "Hats off to the boys in front me. They were blocking shots and heading balls away. It wasn't pretty at the end, but we got the three points and that's all that matters."
The Earthquakes, though rooted to the foot of the Western Conference table, at times looked better than first place Seattle. Djalo, coming off his MLS Player of Week performance against the Chicago Fire, was the best player on the field for San Jose. However, the Portuguese forward's second straight dominant performance was cut short when he had to leave the field midway through the second half with what later was described as a quad strain.
"It was tough to lose Djalo because he was very effective for us," said Watson. "Yannick is a great player. He was probably unlucky not to get a few more goals tonight."
The loss of Djalo, who suffered a similar injury earlier this season and was unavailable for a stretch, will be especially tough for a Quakes side that was just finding its feet. Unbeaten in three games and playing in a new tactical setup, the on-loan striker was playing at a designated player level. Fortunately for San Jose, it is expected to have actual DP signing Matias Perez Garcia available for its next match, Friday at the LA Galaxy.
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MLS Week #21 - Match Statistics
San Jose Earthquakes (6-8-5, 23 pts.) 1:0 Seattle Sounders FC (12-6-2, 38 pts.)
August 2, 2014 - Levi's Stadium
Scoring Summary: Yannick Djalo (Chris Wondolowski) 42.
Misconduct Summary: SJ - Victor Bernardez (caution) 18; SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 45+1; SJ - Atiba Harris (caution) 78; SJ - Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi (caution) 90+4.
San Jose Earthquakes: Jon Busch, Jason Hernandez, Jordan Stewart, Shaun Francis, Victor Bernandez, Shea Salinas (Cordell Cato 87), Atiba Harris, Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi, Sam Cronin, Yannick Djalo (Khari Stephenson 65), Chris Wondolowski.
Statistics: Shots: 13; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 9; Fouls: 16; Corner Kicks: 3; Offside: 2.
Seattle Sounders FC: Stefan Frei, Leonardo Gonzalez (Chad Barrett 83), Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, DeAndre Yedlin, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Gonzalez Pineda, Marco Pappa (Kenney Cooper 65), Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey.
Statistics: Shots: 19; Shots on Goal: 9; Saves: 3; Fouls: 12; Corner Kicks: 9; Offside: 0.