The San Jose Earthquakes won their fourth straight preseason game Wednesday afternoon as a mix of first and second team players topped San Francisco Stompers FC 4-1 in a preseason friendly at the Earthquakes Training Facility.
"We did some good things, we did some bad things, and some things in between," said head coach Dominic Kinnear. "Overall, I'm happy we got some more fitness out of it, and we are looking forward to Saturday."
San Jose plays its last preseason match on Saturday afternoon against the LA Galaxy, but the Stompers proved to be a worthy opponent on the day. The Quakes did dominant over long periods of the match, but the amateur-level National Premier Soccer League side put on a good test for their MLS opponent.
Adam Jahn opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a finish that deflected off a Stompers defender before finding the back of the net. It was Jahn's sixth goal of the preseason -- a number that outpaces the rest of the team by a wide margin. The lanky forward was unlucky not to score again a minute later, doing his best George Best circa 1981 to navigate through a throng of defenders before slotting his shot inches wide of the target.
Rookie midfielder Fatai Alashe, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft, made his first appearance of the preseason for San Jose, and he nearly scored his first goal on his debut, heading a ball narrowly wide of the goal off a corner kick delivery in the 18th minute.
"I would love to have that header back," said Alashe. "That was unfortunate. That's stuff that will come after a few reps, and I get some timing back. Usually, that's one I bang in, and I'll be thinking about that one tonight, for sure, definitely."
Goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, who played the entire 90 minutes against SF Stompers, was called into action in the 22nd minute and denied the visitors a good scoring opportunity with a fine diving save. Meredith has earned quite a few minutes in this preseason, but is still considered the back -up goalkeeper to presumed starter David Bingham.
Newcomer midfielder Leandro Barrera doubled the Earthquakes lead in the 26th minute with a well taken free kick from 20 yards out that eluded the goalkeeper and deflected in off the near post. The Argentine has been impressive this preseason and is in a battle for minutes with Cordell Cato, Shea Salinas, and Sanna Nyassi.
The Quakes started the second half a slight step behind, and the Stompers nearly capitalized with a strong effort on goal that required Meredith to stretch out completely to tip over the crossbar. The sequence served as a wake up call for San Jose, and the players took back momentum. Wholesale changes in the 61st minute saw Kinnear employ numerous first team selections, and the disruption in the flow of the game proved an issue.
After a giveaway near the center line in the 64th minute, the Stompers counterattacked on the defensively shallow Earthquakes three man backline and found just the space they needed to break through. Eluding a defender near the top of the area, forward Khalid Arramdani created just enough space to strike a ball across goal and just out of reach of Meredith to halve the Earthquakes lead.
It was a special moment for the Moroccan born striker, as he pointed to the sky and then turned to celebrate his goal with jubilant teammates. Arramdani recently played for Canada College in Redwood City, earning NSCAA/Continental Tire Junior College Men's Division III All-America second-team honors in 2013 after scoring 22 goals for Canada. The 20 year old joined Stompers FC in hopes off attracting even more attention from scouts as he aims to one day play professionally.
The goal also awakened the Earthquakes, who flooded forward into the attacking third at will. Sanna Nyassi came close to taking back a goal, as did Chris Wondolowski from point blank range moments later. Stompers defenders did their best against the onslaught, but could only do so much against their MLS competition.
In the 73rd minute, after blowing past a defender along the byline, Shea Salinas was shoved off the ball as he attempted to take a shot on goal. The referee immediately whistled and pointed to the spot to indicate a penalty kick, much to the disgust of the San Francisco defense. Wondolowski stepped up and buried the shot, but due to infringement had to take the kick again. His second attempt was even more impressive than the first, and the Earthquakes restored their two goal lead.
"You have two approaches ready to go when you step up to take a penalty," said Wondolowski. "I wasn't worried about having to take it again."
Shaun Francis capped off the scoring for San Jose in the 79th minute after calmly shooting home a loose ball following a corner kick delivery from Salinas. Matias Perez Garcia came within inches of extending the lead in the 89th minute, but his curling effort from outside the penalty area caromed teasingly off the far post after clearing the goalkeeper.
The Earthquakes continue their preseason schedule with a Cali Clasico meeting with the LA Galaxy this Saturday afternoon, kick off at 2:00 p.m. at the first-ever event at brand-new Avaya Stadium. And though it might be a preseason match, it is expected to be anything but friendly.
"If we were playing the Galaxy in a parking lot with no one watching," said Wondolowski, "it would be a little more hyped up than normal."
- Khari Stephenson entered in the 38th minute as a replacement for center back Ty Harden. The Quakes kept the Jamaican in the same role, but Stephenson often drifted more into the midfield. Harden left the game after taking a cleat to the leg minutes earlier.
- Innocent Emeghara watched the match, but he did not warm up. Kinnear said later that he did not expect the Quakes third Designated Player to be available against the Galaxy, but did indicate that he might be ready for the MLS season opener a week later. "Hopefully he will be practicing with us next week," said Kinnear.
- Clarence Goodson also watched the match from the bench, as did JJ Koval, but both players were expected to be back in training before the weekend.
- Kinnear indicated after the match that defender Pablo Pintos and forward Kris Tyrpak had been released and were no longer with the team. "He's not with us anymore," said Kinnear of Pintos. "We waived him. He's cleared waivers and he's now a free agent." As for Tyrpak, who the Quakes picked up in the , "We waived him two days ago. He was on the waiver wire as well." Dispersal Draft
- As for the fate of the two trialists that have spent much of the preseason under evaluation, Kinnear did state that Portuguese center back Paulo Renato was in line to earn a spot on the roster. "It should be out pretty soon," said Kinnear. "We are still talking with him. I think the paperwork should be good to go. We're looking to keep him." U.C. Irvine midfielder Cameron Iwasa has also managed to stick around, "We are still looking at him as well," added Kinnear.
- The goal conceded by the Earthquakes was the first in five games, going back to a 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the Desert Friendlies in Tucson. Renato scored the only goal for the Quakes in that match.
- The Avaya Stadium sound system was being tested at various times during the match, and the music could be heard loud and clear at the nearby Training Facility. The Earthquakes reported that only a handful of tickets to Saturday's game remained to be sold.
San Jose Earthquakes 4 -- San Francisco Stompers FC 1
February 25, 2015 -- Earthquakes Training Facility
Scoring Summary: SJ -- Adam Jahn (Mike Fucito) 10, Leandro Barrera (unassisted) 26, Chris Wondolowski (penalty) 73, Shaun Francis (Shea Salinas) 79; SFFC -- Khalid Arramdani (unassisted) 65.
Misconduct Summary: SJ -- None; SFFC -- None.
San Jose Earthquakes: Bryan Meredith, Shaun Francis (Jordan Stewart 61 (Shaun Francis 68)), Ty Harden (Khari Stephenson 38), Paulo Renato (Victor Bernardez 61), Brandon Barklage (Marvell Wynne 61), Leandro Barrera (Shea Salinas 61), Fatai Alashe (Jean-Baptiste Pierazzi 61), Tommy Thompson (Matias Perez Garcia 61), Cordell Cato (Sanna Nyassi 61), Mike Fucito (Cam Iwasa 61), Adam Jahn (Chris Wondolowski 61).