The San Jose Earthquakes celebrate yet another happy ending following their victory over Real Lake City in their three goal win to improve to 3-0-1 and move onto the quarterfinals (@SJEarthquakes photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
ORLANDO, Fla.—The San Jose Earthquakes continued their dominance in the second half. Real Salt Lake was their latest victim as they won they scored four second half goals en route to a 5-2 victory in their round of 16 match of the MLS is Back tournament on Monday evening at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
With the victory the Quakes stamped their ticket to the quarterfinals of the MLS Is Back tournament and now await the winner of the Minnesota FC-Columbus Crew match tomorrow evening.
San Jose had five different players tally either a goal or an assist and two players that recorded both a goal and an assist.
The Earthquakes have now scored 11 goals in their last three matches of the MLS is Back Tournament, including at least four in two of the three games. The club has now outscored its opponents 11-5 in the competition and 10-2 over its last 210 minutes.
San Jose controlled the majority of play in the first half. They won the possession battle 66%-34% against Real Salt Lake.
“I think the team keeps growing game after game,” said Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “It keeps showing a very positive attitude. In unity, in sacrifice, but more than anything in how they play. The best thing for a coach is to get the maximum level out of each player because that will allow us to have growth. Once again, I am grateful to each player and for the work they have put in.”
The Quakes broke through in the 21st minute. Magnus Eriksson started a rush up the pitch where he found Vako open in the middle. Vako then sent a pass out to the right wing where Cristian Espinoza gathered the ball, made a move inside and fired a shot past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Zac MacMath back into the left corner of the goal for his second goal in as many games.
Real Salt Lake caught San Jose sleeping at the subsequent kickoff. A long ball surprised the Quakes backline and sprung Douglas Martinez who came in all alone from the left wing. Quakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega came out to challenge the play but Martinez chipped the ball over Vega for a goal just 21 seconds later at the 22nd minute.
San Jose regained their composer and toward the end of the half had numerous attempts for the go-ahead goal but weren’t able to capitalize.
It didn’t take long for San Jose regain the lead once the second half started. In the 48th minute with the Quakes in possession, Eriksson split RSL’s defense with a splendid pass over to Tommy Thompson who broke in from the right side of the D. Thompson had a stride on Alvin Jones, who ended up pushing down Thompson inside the box resulting in a penalty kick for the Quakes.
Eriksson buried the ball into the upper right corner for the first of his two-goal evening for San Jose.
“We have been shooting penalties during the week and I felt pretty confident. I had a really great feeling before both penalty kicks. There was no doubt from my side. I am really happy with the performance tonight with the boys and everybody around the team, so it is a great evening for us,” Eriksson said.
Real Salt Lake pushed back in the 59th minute when Martinez drove into the box but his shot was saved by Vega.
San Jose gained their first two-goal lead two minutes later in the 61st minute. Vako collected a turnover from 30 yards out. He dribbled up the middle before sending a pass to the left where Andy Rios gave back a pretty centering feed to Vako who tapped home the ball for for his first goal of the tournament.
Once again Martinez tried to get Real Salt Lake back into the match. He centered a pass over Damar Kreilach but Vega was there with a diving save off to spoil Kreilach’s chance in the 63rd minute.
Kreilach gave Real Salt Lake a glimmer of hope in the 75th minute when he slammed home a pass from Marcelo Silva past into the right corner past Vega cutting the Quakes lead to just one goal.
Silva received a red card in the 84th minute for a dangerous tackle attempt on Jackson Yueill that had the Quakes midfielder withering in pain on the grass for a few minutes.
With San Jose up with a man advantage, Chris Wondolowski put the game away in the 86th minute when Shea Salinas made a move around Justin Meram and centered the ball that deflected off the foot of MacMath over to the MLS all-time leading goal scorer who had the ball tap off his shin and sneak into the right corner of the net for his third goal in three games.
Wondo increased his current MLS record for goals to 162.
Eriksson put the cherry on top in the final minute of stoppage time when he cashed in his second penalty shot of the night after a hand ball by Kyle Beckerman inside the box gave the Quakes their second opportunity from 12 yards out. Beckerman was issued a red card and ejected from the match for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Vega finished with three saves on fives shots on target as he stayed undefeated in the tournament (3-0-1). MacMath finished with three saves on eight shots on target in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose had six corner kicks to Real Salt Lake’s four.
The only stat Real Salt Lake dominated in was fouls. They had 19 to only nine for San Jose.
The Quakes have taken more than twice the number of shots as their opponents in the MLS is Back Tournament (76 to 37).
Rios tallied his first assist of the MLS is Back Tournament and first of the year in all competitions.
Sixteen-year-old Cade Cowell made his second appearance of the MLS is Back Tournament, entering as a substitute in the 81st minute.
Real Salt Lake’s Justen Glad was issued a yellow card in the 66th minute for tripping Espinoza. Corey Baird (33rd minute) and Aaron Herrera (29th minute) also drew yellow cards. Espinoza received his own yellow card in the 31st minute.
UP NEXT: San Jose take on the winner of the Columbus-Minnesota match on Saturday 8/1 at 5:00pm at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.