Minnesota FC take down Earthquakes 4-1, advance to MLS Is Back semifinals

The San Jose Earthquakes tweeted a message “It was an incredible journey” they went 3-0-1 going into Saturday’s night’s game against Minnesota FC but were eliminated in the quarterfinal in a 4-1 loss. (@SJEarthquakes photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

ORLANDO, Fla— Kryptonite is kryptonite.

For the The San Jose Earthquakes their kryptonite is Minnesota FC. The Loons established its game early and never took their foot off the gas pedal in a 4-1 victory in a quarterfinals match of the MLS Is Back tournament on Saturday evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

San Jose has lost four consecutive games against Minnesota, including a 5-2 loss back in March at Earthquakes Stadium, dating back to last year and are 0-4 during head coach Matias Almeyda’s tenure with the Quakes.

The Cinderella run for San Jose came to an end after spending five weeks in the citrus city. They now head back to Silicon Valley to regroup while Minnesota FC head to a semifinal matchup with Orlando City FC on Thursday.

The Loons took control of the game scoring two goals in a 90 second span at the 20th minute.

Hassani Dotson sent a cross in to the left side of the box where Jose Aja headed the ball back into the middle where an unmarked Robin Lod finished the play with a right-footed chip into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

Before the Quakes could even blink, Minnesota FC’s Dotson dribbled in from right to left with a shot on goal that Quakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega wasn’t able to control and Jacori Hayes buried the rebound into the upper right corner for a two-goal lead. It was Hayes’ first goal in a Minnesota FC uniform.

“We were outplayed by the opponent. It’s the fourth time they played us and the fourth time they beat us. In these instances, unfortunately you have to get your bags and go home. And even though I didn’t want to lose, I had illusions to keep going. All the people that were here, the players, the staff, the executives, people back home, I thank everybody for the effort,” Almeyda said.

Despite controlling the possession game in the first half 70%-30%, San Jose looked flat-footed in the first 45 minutes as Minnesota looked steps ahead playing their style of game.

San Jose changed the momentum of the game briefly at the beginning of the second half when Cristian Espinoza sent a ball into the box where Tommy Thompson’s chip went off the wrist of Hayes. After VAR review a penalty shot was awarded to the Quakes.

Once again Magnus Eriksson was the man from 12 yards out as he slammed home the shot past Minnesota FC goalkeeper Tyler Miller for his third penalty conversion of the tournament in the 50th minute. Eriksson is now a perfect eight for eight on penalty shots.

Six minutes later Minnesota FC regained their two-goal lead and ended any chance of a San Jose comeback. Lod made a pass from midfield over to Luis Amarilla. The Minnesota FC striker then dribbled the ball unchallenged all the way down inside the box before drilling a shot past Vega from 12 yards out for a 3-1 lead.

“I am really proud of the steps forward that we’ve taken in this tournament. “It was a huge commitment for us to be the first team here, and to stay as long as we did. I think it’s a testament to where this team is at. We’re confident and I think the best is yet to come. We have plenty of lessons to take, whether it’s the comeback win against Vancouver, or the convincing win against Chicago, or now those result against Minnesota. We’re going to take the good with the bad and were focusing on the future. It’s like I said, I think the best is yet to come”, said Thompson.

The Loons finished off the scoring to ice the game in the 86th minute. Dotson made a run along the right wing and centered the ball into the middle where Marlon Hairston tapped in the ball into an open net.

Miller only needed to make three saves in earning the victory. Vega made nine saves in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose had 6 corner kicks. Minnesota FC had 5.

San Jose were issued four yellow cards in the match (Chris Wondolowski, Jackson Yueill, Andy Rios and Judson).

The Earthquakes depart the MLS is Back Tournament with a 3-1-1 overall record, including a 2-0-1 record in Group-Stage play that counts towards the regular-season standings.

San Jose held >60% possession in all five of their matches in the tournament.

Eriksson and Wondolowski each finished with a team-high three goals during the competition.

Midfielder Jack Skahan made his Earthquakes debut, entering as a substitute in the 67th minute.

Vega and defender Guram Kashia each played all 450 minutes of the tournament.

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