The San Jose Earthquakes faced an intriguing opponent in new-look D.C. United on Saturday, a team that was rebuilding in a mold similar to their own project, and the Quakes showed on the night they were the superior team, winning 4-1 at PayPal Park.
San Jose were comfortably in control throughout the night, taking a first-minute lead and never relinquishing it. By and large, the goals were impressive on the night, and Cade Cowell had another monster game, with a goal and two assists.
Matias Almeyda made one change to his starting lineup for San Jose, bringing in Tanner Beason for his first action of the season, with Oswaldo Alanís not in the squad at all. Obviously Chris Wondolowski was out of the squad, too, as he served his red-card suspension.
The Earthquakes got started quickly, with Cowell setting up Chofís Lopez on the counterattack and the Mexican newcomer burying the shot for his first MLS goal in the very first minute.
The game kind of settled down from there, but Cowell could not be stopped, as he got his second goal in as many games in the 26th minute, outrunning D.C. defender Frederic Brillant and slotting home the shot in a remarkably composed manner.
But D.C. showed their first sign of life in the 31st minute, with a scramble in front of the box off a United free kick leading to Yamil Asad shielding a Quakes defender in San Jose’s box and Tony Alfaro crashing in the one-touch finish to make it 2-1.
D.C. tried to pile on more pressure in attack from there and found some chances as the first half wore down. Cristian Espinoza nearly scored in the 42nd minute on a one-man counterattack off a D.C. corner kick, but his attempt around United GK Chris Seitz was blocked by the last man, Moses Nyeman.
But on the subsequent corner kick, the ball floated out on the first try, but Jackson Yueill was on the spot and hit an acrobatic volley to make it 3-1, a remarkable golazo.
JACKSON YUEILL WITH THE GOAL OF THE WEEK. pic.twitter.com/csV6nQRAAg— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) May 2, 2021
And the teams went into the locker room with the Quakes leading 3-1, San Jose obviously feeling good but knowing D.C. could mount a rally in the 2nd 45 if they weren’t careful.
United made a couple changes at halftime, but none for the Quakes, who were obviously feeling good. The second half became something of a game management exercise, as D.C. got more active in trying to play back into the game and San Jose had to do a lot more defending.
The changes finally came in the 72nd minute for San Jose, with Marcos Lopez entering for Paul Marie, Andy Rios heading in for Carlos Fierro, Luciano Abecasis joining for Tommy Thompson, and Judson subbing in for Chofís. Shea Salinas was the final sub of the night, replacing Espinoza in the 80th minute.
The Quakes nearly let United walk in the door in the dying minutes, with a miscue in the back leading to JT Marcinkowski passing the ball right to D.C. forward Erik Sorga in San Jose’s box, but Florian Jungwirth came to the rescue to make the sliding block on the subsequent shot.
And then the Quakes added the final tally right after that, as a looping cross from Cowell to the back post was headed in by Yueill, who snuck in behind D.C.’s defense.
I suppose you could complain about the Quakes conceding in this one, but honestly, this was one of the most dominant San Jose performances we’ve seen in a long time. They didn’t even have to press for about 30 minutes of the second half, because D.C. just could not get into the game, and that helped them save their legs. Take this one, hope it rubs off on future performances, and enjoy a night like this.
San Jose hit the road again for their next game, Friday against the red-hot Real Salt Lake, who have won their first two games of the season. Did we expect both of these teams would be entering on budding winning streaks? Probably not, but this one could be another cracker.
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