Photo credit: @SJEarthquakes
By Pearl Allison Lo
LOS ANGELES– The Southern California team advanced in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16 as the Los Angeles Football Club defended its turf 3-1 Thursday.
LAFC was 7-0-1 at home before this game and will move on to face the Portland Timbers (who shut out the Los Angeles Galaxy 4-0) in the Quarterfinals match July 10.
San Jose is now 0-4-0 all-time versus LAFC. However, for facing the number one team in MLS, the Quakes held their own, especially in the first half score wise, and scored their first goal at Banc of California Stadium.
LAFC’s Diego Rossi had a goal and an assist. Keeper Pablo Sisniega made eight saves and San Jose’s Andrew Tarbell six.
“The keeper made a couple great saves, and changed the game in that sense…they finished their chances and have that killer instinct,” remarked Quakes’ Captain Chris Wondolowski.
LAFC controlled the first third possession-wise, bur Vako picked up right where he left off in U.S. Open Cup Play, after scoring his second goal in the 91st minute versus Sacramento Republic Tuesday the previous week. Jackson Yueill found an opening for the ball to send it upfield to Cristian Espinoza, who passed to his left to Vako who was then able to score in front of his defender near Sisniega in the 7th minute. It was another statistical contribution in the tournament for Espinoza, who scored in the 38th minute last game.
In the 20th minute, Wondo had a header that went off Sisniega’s fingertips and into the net, but Wondo was offsides.
Rossi had a one-on-one battle near goal in which he and the home crowd thought he got fouled.
Rossi finally broke through the defense with a diagonal kick to tie the game up in the 35th minute. Lee Nguyen got the assist.
Latif Blessing narrowly missed in the 40th minute after it went off Tarbell’s fingers.
Vako and Rossi both led the first half with three shots apiece. San Jose had four shots on target compared to one for LAFC.
Rossi delivered the ball and Adama Diomande gave LAFC its first lead in the 60th minute when he sped to get around Tarbell, resulting in the goal.
Espinoza almost single-handedly took back the goal in the 63rd minute after a long pass, but was stifled by Sisniega.
Espinoza’s fifth shot attempt in the 76th minute left two Quakes sprawled in the grass.
Captain Carlos Vela then made his mark in front of an already hyped crowd. He maneuvered his way to the front of the net as Tarbell went the opposite direction in the 85th minute to make it 3-1. Tristan Blackmon was credited with the helper.
“We weren’t clinical enough,” noted Wondolowski, but also in reply to the 5-0 drubbing from their opponents on March 30, “we’re not scared of anyone anymore.”
Up Next: Vako led with six shots, followed by Espinoza’s five and Vela and Rossi with four apiece. San Jose will now travel back home for the regular season to play host for two games, starting with the Houston Dynamo Wednesday at 7:30 pm.