Minnesota United uses set pieces to dominate Earthquakes 5-2

photo from bayareanewsgroup.com: San Jose Earthquakes’ Danny Hoesen (9), front right, fights for the ball against Minnesota United FC’s Romain Métanire (19) in the first half of an MLS soccer match in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, March 7, 2020

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE, Calif- In a game that featured the heavans opening up with a steady rain throughout the match, the Minnesota United scored four goals in the first half to dominate the San Jose Earthquakes in 5-2 victory on Saturday evening at Earthquakes Stadium.

The game went on despite warnings earlier in the week from Santa Clara County officials regarding the Coronovirus in wanting to cancel large group outings such as sporting events and concerts.

Minnesota United (2-0-0) scored the opening goal at the 13th minute mark off a corner kick. Jon Gregus floated a ball into the center where defenseman Ike Opara cleanly headed the ball past Quakes goalie Daniel Vega for his first goal of the season.

San Jose (0-1-1) scored the eqaulizer thanks to a controversial non-call. Minneota United defender Chase Gasper tripped up Tommy Thompson just inside the box as Thomspon tried dribbling the ball around Gasper. There was no call on the initial play but after video review referee Baldomero Toledo awarded a penalty kick to the Quakes.

Quakes captain Magnus Eriksson finished off the penalty kick into the lower right corner of the net for his first goal of the season a minute later at the 19th minute.

Minnesota United didn’t need much time to regain the lead. Luis Amarilla led a rush into the Quakes zone. He made a nice pass over to Jan Gregus who fired a shot from outside the box past Vega for his first goal of the season at the 26th minute.

“A football team that wants to fight for important things, can’t give away so many defenseive mistakes. I told the players these are losses you should remember your whole life. Because if you always make three mistakes a game, you’re being very generous to your opponents and it’s impossible to win in football that way,” Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda said.

Six minutes later Minnesota United caught the Quakes napping on defense. Team leading point scorer Kevin Molino centered a ball into the middle where Amarilla was left all alone to head the ball into the upper left corner of the net for his second goal of the season at the 32nd minute.

“There’s a great collective spirit,” said Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath when asked about his team’s start. “They do what’s asked of them. They hold each other accountable which is always important. It doesn’t surprise me they start we’ve had.”

Minnesotsa United went up by three goals right before half time. They were awarded a penalty kick in the third minute of extra time off a set piece. Goram Kashia tackled Opara inside the box resulting in the penalty. Amarilla’s shot was saved by Vega, but Robin Lod came in and cleaned up the rebound for his first goal of the season.

The Quakes cut the lead in half in the 53rd minute. Off a corner kick, Eriksson’s attempted cross was deflected into the middle of box where Vako collected the ball, made one touch, and then buried a shot past United goalie Tyler Miller for his first goal of the season.

Opara scored his second of the game off an identical corner kick in the 71st minute. Once again he was left unmarked and his header split two Qukes defenders and past the reach of Vega.

“Honestly Jan (Gregus) is great with his services. If we do our runs consistently, we got enough guys more than capable getting chances. It wasn’t San Jose (doing a poor job of defending), that’s just how much we believe in what we can do. Tonight it finally came through,” said Opara.

Miller made four saves on six shots on target to earn his second victory of the season. Vegas eight saves on 10 shots on target in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished the match with 20 shots. Minnesota United has 17.

San Jose finished with 6 corner kicks. Minnesota United had 8.

Cade Cowell substituted for Danny Hoesen to start the second half. At 16 years old and 150 days, he is the youngest player to make his Quakes debut. He is the fifth youngest ever in MLS history.

Amarilla was issued a yellow card in the 67th minute for unsporting behavior.

UP NEXT: The Earthquakes travel out to Philadephia to take on the Union on Saturday 3/14 at 4:30pm at PPL Park.

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