The San Jose Earthquakes continue to burnish their case as tournament specialists, as they faced Real Salt Lake and beat them 5-2 Monday night in a wild back-and-forth Round of 16 clash in the MLS is Back Tournament in Florida.
The Quakes controlled the game throughout, but a couple errors kept RSL in the game. In the end, the team ethic prevailed once again, as San Jose are one of the final eight teams left in the competition.
Matias Almeyda went with the starting XI that started the first two games for San Jose, bringing back Oswaldo Alanís and Tommy Thompson to the backline.
The scoring came in a flurry. San Jose drew first blood, with Cristian Espinoza hitting a low shot after a quick buildup by the Quakes in the 21st minute.
But RSL scored almost right off the kickoff, with Douglas Martinez getting past Guram Kashia very easily, and chipping Daniel Vega to make it 1-1 a minute later.
The teams entered halftime tied, with San Jose controlling play except on that one goal conceded.
In the 48th minute, Thompson drew a penalty from RSL substitute Alvin Jones. Magnus Eriksson stepped up and scored a minute later to make it 2-1 Quakes.
They found an insurance goal in the 61st minute, when Vako tapped in the square ball from Andy Rios after getting through an attempted offside trap. The goal was reviewed, but VAR didn’t consider it a clear and obvious offside, so the goal stood.
In the 75th minute, RSL found a lifeline, as Damir Kreilach scored to make it 3-2 for RSL. From there, RSL chased the game and San Jose held on for deal life.
With RSL desperate, defender Marcelo Silva hit a horrible flying lunge tackle on Jackson Yueill and was given a straight red card in the 84th minute. Shortly after that, Chris Wondolowski was off the bench once again and he trickled it in on the doorstep in the 87th minute to cushion San Jose’s lead once more, 4-2. Then in stoppage time, San Jose drew a penalty off a Kyle Beckerman handball, and Eriksson once again scored from the spot to put the exclamation point on the night.
It was a characteristic Earthquakes performance: Hard work, pure chaos, and a lot of goals. But this is how Almeyda’s style is supposed to look when it’s clicking, and through four games in Orlando, it’s clicking.
San Jose will have to wait to find out their next opponent, the winner of Tuesday’s game between the Columbus Crew and Minnesota United. The Quakes’ next game will be Saturday, so mark your calendars now! San Jose are in the final eight!
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