What a great day it was for all involved at Avaya Stadium. The party started early in the stadium and continued with the opening kickoff and a couple of early goals. By the time the final whistle blew, the San Jose Earthquakes had opened Avaya with a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Fire.
If last week's game against Seattle was highlighted by forwards stepping up, this week belonged to defenders. It's rather impressive considering neither center back in this match had played more than 33 minutes so far this season. Sure they conceded one goal, but considering Chicago's relative midfield dominance (outpossessing San Jose 58%-42%), they handled the workload well. Center back Ty Harden even contributed the game winning goal.
This victory was perhaps not as spectacular as the away win against Seattle, but three points in the home opener is exactly what the team needed. Next up comes a tricky road game against New England. For now, the Quakes will celebrate the great occasion.
Check out last week's ratings to gauge each player's trajectory.
G David Bingham, 7.5 - The 'keeper's reflexes are top notch. Recorded a few more great saves in this game, particularly off the head of defender Eric Gehrig to keep the Quakes ahead 2-1 right after they had conceded. Still takes unnecessary risks in the game. In this case it was with his feet, as he was too casual in possession early on and gifted a chance on one occasion that Harry Shipp wasted.
D Marvell Wynne, 8 - The right back had a tricky assignment today. Chicago's wingers kept switching sides and providing him with different looks. With substitutions, Wynne wound up facing about three different players with distinct attacking styles. Overall he did very well. Didn't contribute as much in attack as last week, but he didn't have the same opportunities.
D Shaun Francis, 6.5 - A puzzling performance from Francis. On one hand, he made some very positive forays forward and had a decent scoring chance late in the first half. On the other, he gave the ball away repeatedly with poor passes from his side back position. Will be looking for some more consistency.
D Ty Harden, 8.5 - Unlike Clarence Goodson, Harden is a definite bench player that was forced into the lineup due to injuries and suspension. He answered the call extremely well. Besides the game winning goal, Harden was a big part of a Quakes defense that did not allow a shot on goal the entire second half. It's nice to have this kind of defensive depth.
D Clarence Goodson, 9 - Besides getting caught out of position on the goal (like the entire Quakes back line), Goodson barely set a foot wrong. Was involved in both Earthquakes' goals, winning a header on the first and firing the initial shot on the second. Looked assured in winning possession and made a couple of key plays late, including a huge blocked shot near the edge of the box in second half stoppage time.
M Fatai Alashe, 6.5 - Did well on the goal, and was reliable winning aerial long balls from Chicago's back line. Didn't do so well controlling possession for the Quakes. Some of his passes were errant, and he struggled to direct his headers to teammates. Was definitely outplayed by DP Shaun Maloney on the other side. A good learning experience for him in that respect.
M J.J. Koval, 7 - His best performance of the season so far, although the Quakes will still need more from him in games like these. Started out very well, seemingly energized by the atmosphere in the stadium. Was aggressive in winning possession and even got a dangerous shot away. Faded and lost confidence throughout the game. There's a good player here; he just needs to get comfortable.
M Matías Pérez García, 8.5 - Set pieces were key for San Jose on this day, and he is the key to San Jose's set pieces. Every single free kick he took outside the box was dangerous. One such free kick and another corner yielded the goals. In the run of play, he does very well to wriggle his way out of trouble. A very consistent performer.
M Sanna Nyassi, 7.5 - Full marks for his work on winning the ball defensively. Gave good support to Wynne and made it difficult for Chicago to attack down that left flank. He bucked his teammates' trend and actually seemed to get stronger as the game went on into the second half. Not the best offensive night, but you have to like the work rate.
M Innocent Emeghara, 6 - Maybe expectations are a little too high after his goal-of-the-week, but there just wasn't enough today from Innocent. His creativity was too infrequent, as he tried the same attack over and over. He wanted to cut in on his right foot to shoot against Eric Gehrig. But on current form, Gehrig is one of the best center backs in the league and snuffed it out every time. There needs to be a plan B and better link up play with teammates.
F Chris Wondolowski, 6.5 - A quiet game for Wondo. Didn't get enough touches on the ball (a casualty of the lack of team possession). Had the one clear chance in the second half, only to see Gehrig block his shot over the byline. Was still a vocal leader on a night when his lack of attacking contributions was fortunately not costly.
M Shea Salinas, 7.5 - His best showing this season by far. Injected some energy into a Quakes attack that had been dormant most of the second half. Nearly got an assist on a set piece play to Koval.
F Adam Jahn, N/A - Not quite enough time to make an impact
M Cordell Cato N/A