That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Las Vegas the New Gold Rush for Sports

A view of the front doors of the Tropicana Casino Hotel Resort in Las Vegas which could wind up being the home to either the Oakland A’s or a new MLS franchise (photo by troplv.com)

Las Vegas the New Gold Rush for Sports

That’s Amaury News and Commentary

By Amaury Pi-González

Major League Soccer Commissioner, Don Garber is looking to Las Vegas for expansion: “Las Vegas is a frontrunner for MLS 30th team” said Mr. Garber, who added, “We are looking to build a stadium right off the strip”.

Sin City has gained national attention in recent years with the birth of the NHL Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Oakland Raiders, now Las Vegas Raiders, both playing in the most famous desert in the country.

Now they are also in the mix for MLS 30th team according to Garber who added “our 30th team is really going to round out expansion in Major League Soccer, so stay tuned, because in the first quarter of 2022 we should be announcing a 30th team”.

It makes sense for the MLS build a new stadium for their expansion team in Las Vegas, since that is an outdoor sport with the regular seasons beginning in late February and ending early October, they play lots of games in the summer and in Las Vegas you need an indoor-air conditioned stadium.

Obviously, Oakland A’s aficionados are still in a unique situation where the team is moving forward with two parallel plans one for the Howard Terminal new ballpark at Jack London Square in Oakland, and one someplace in Las Vegas.

That is sort of good news for each plan. In Oakland the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) a 3,500 page document which the city of Oakland planning commission could vote next month and approve. This is just one step in a very long process as the A’s and the city of Oakland are still in on-going negotiations about how to pay for the project and the infrastructure around it.

Meanwhile in Las Vegas, the A’s are also involved in looking for land to build a new stadium. After earlier in 2021 MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave the team permission to look for alternate sites in other cities, in case they cannot build the Howard Terminal new park.

The Tropicana Hotel site on Las Vegas famous strip a primary target, also Dave Kaval President of the A’s and John Fisher owner have made repeated visits to the desert and are evaluating other options like a plot owned by Wyndham Hotel and Resorts Las Vegas and another by betting on casino company Caesars Entertainment.

It has been reported also (although not confirmed) that the Hughes Corporation (originally owned by Howard Hughes) has offered “free” land to the Oakland team if they wish to build their new park in Summerlin, an affluent suburb, minutes from the strip. Las Vegas media also has reported the A’s have looked at Henderson, Nevada, just a few minutes from the Strip for their new park

A’s fans by now have heard just about everything they need to know, stuff they like, and stuff they do not, like the team announcing last year a substantial increase in their season tickets, which was not very well received.

The one positive is the Howard Terminal plans are moving along, although (we must keep in mind) still a non-binding agreement. Many scenarios are floating around here in the Bay Area among fans and media.

One is that the A’s will play in 2022 at the Oakland Coliseum but sometime during the season they will announce their plans for the Howard Terminal although it’s still in development however, they do not believe that is going to materialize and announce that they will be moving out of Oakland. By 2023 they will be playing at their AAA facility Las Vegas Aviators Park, while they build their new permanent home in Sin City.

Your guess is as good as anybody. But two things that you can bet on, in the near future Las Vegas will have an MLS team and the other one: sometime this year we will finally know where the A’s are going to play. The Commissioner has made it abundantly clear that his patience with Oakland is about to expire. The ‘fish or cut bait’ scenario is coming soon.

During the 2021 season the Oakland A’s played 80 games at the Oakland Coliseum and averaged 8,767 fans per game, that ranked #29 among the 30 teams in baseball, the Miami Marlins finished last averaging 7,933.

We have to consider that most teams attendance have gone down during the past two seasons because all the Covid-19 restrictions. And this upcoming 2022, which has been in a lockout by owners since last December 2, could figure to be a wild card.

Is another variant on the way after Omicron? How will States handle all this, we are a big and complex country we have 50 States and they all have different laws and regulations.

Like we say on radio as well as television “stay tune for more news to come”

Amaury Pi Gonzalez does News and Commentary weekly at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Wondo says farewell in Quakes final game in 1-1 draw with FC Dallas

San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski being carried off the field he broke the all-time MLS record for goals on May 18, 2019.—Courtesy of the San Jose Earthquakes.

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—The greatest goal scorer in MLS history had his swan song.

San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski announced his retirement from the game of soccer to a crowd of 17,075 after his team played its final match of the season to a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon at Pay Pal Park.

What was supposed to happen last year in 2020, finally happened after a career that spanned 17 years. Wondolowski originally intended to have 2020 be his final year in soccer but due to the Covid-19 pandemic that postponed the season for four months and then returned with no fans allowed inside the stadiums, he wanted to play one more full season with the fans in attendence.

Wondo, 38, finished his storied career as the MLS leader in goal with 171, 26 more than any other MLS player (Landon Donovan-145) and 413 games played, including 376 appearances for San Jose, most in club history and third most in MLS history.

He also holds the MLS records for combined regular season and playoff goals (173), goals for one club (167), game-winning goals (46), and goals in 1-0 victories (14), while ranking second in multi-goal games (25) and tied for second in hat-tricks (5).

As for the match, it was only fitting that Wondolowski scored a goal in his final game. His goal broke the ice for San Jose (10-13-11) in the 34th minute. Marcos Lopez sent in a low cross into the box where Wondo one-timed a perfect volley into the left corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

FC Dallas (7-15-12) had a chance to even the game late in the half when Quakes goalie Daniel Vega, who made his only start of the season, collided with Jáder Obrian inside the box and was whistled for a penalty by referee Victor Rivas.

However Ricardo Pepi’s penalty attempt in the 40th minute hit off the cross bar and was cleared away by the Quakes as FC Dallas weren’t able to generate a second opportunity.

FC Dallas scored the equalizer two minutes later. Jesus Ferreira’s clearing attempt out of his own zone caught San Jose’s backline flatfooted as it led to a breakaway from Obrian. The 26 year native of Colombia dribbled in and chipped the ball past Vega for his ninth goal of the season in the 42nd minute.

Each team had chances in the final 10 minutes of the match to score the game winning goal but none of the attempts were successful.

Vega didn’t make a save on the one shot on target his faced. FC Dallas goalie Jimmy Maurer made six saves on seven shots as each keeper earned a draw.

For Wondolowski, he wanted to make his announcement in front of the Quakes faithful to give them a chance to say goodbye to him on the pitch one final time.

“I wanted to do this in front of fans instead of in front of a bunch of cameras,” said Wondolowski as he address the crowd. I wanted to do this in front of you because you guys have been there from day one. This is the last run. I told myself I would cry, and I knew that tears would be coming, but thank you guys. It’s been an amazing ride. I can’t thank you guys enough. It starts with my teammates and literally the league. These guys have been there, in the locker room, practices and the battles. I’ve got to thank my family and everyone here. There are more people than I can count, many Wondolowskis, mom, dad. I got my wife and two girls and a little one on the way.”

Wondo couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion as he talked to the crowd and how much each of them meant to him during his career.

“The cool thing is that I get to do this with my hometown team,” the native of Danville continued. “Thank you guys for this wonderful ride. Thank you for being a part of me, pushing me on. I can’t thank you guys enough. This organization is going to do big things. I can’t wait for it, and we’ll be here for the future. Thank you to the fans. From Faultline to Epicenter, the Ultras and everyone here. I can’t thank you guys enough. You guys mean the world.”

Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda had this to say about his time with Wondo over the past three years.

“I enjoyed coaching him. We have an excellent relationship in the humane and sporting aspect. He has been a great professional. A goal scorer is leaving and it is difficult to replace goal scorers, especially him. Hopefully, our young players have recognized the path Chris has taken and follow it. Chris leaves a huge legacy behind, which is the nicest thing to leave behind. Many leave titles, many leave huge numbers, but he leaves a special legacy as the all-time leading scorer. With time, he and many others will realize how important that is,” Almeyda said.

Wondlowski, whose MLS career began in 2005 as a fourth-round Supplemental Draft pick out of Chico State, took home Golden Boot presented by Audi honors during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns. A five-time MLS All-Star and three-time Best XI selection, he also was named the league’s MVP in 2012.

The Quakes have a lot of questions to be answered during the off season such as who will be the next general manager? Will Almeyda return as head coach? Does he want to return? Will the team continue with its youth movement or will they look to acquire veteran talent both domestic and international?

Those questions will have answers to them later on as the offseason progresses.

But today was all about the celebration of Bay Area soccer legend Chris Wondolowski who hung up his cleats one last time.

Earthquakes score four unanswered goals in 4-3 upset win over Real Salt Lake

The San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski kicks the ball against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy UT on Sat Oct 30, 2021 (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SANDY, Utah—Playing spoiler isn’t such a bad thing.

The San Jose Earthquakes took their new role well as they scored four unanswered goals and then hung on at the end in a stunning 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.

San Jose won their final road game of the season and finished 5-6-7 away from Pay Pal Park. Real Salt Lake failed to to move up in the Western conference standings and currently hang on the seventh and final playoff spot with 45 points.

It was the first time San Jose had won two consecutive games in Rio Tinto Stadium since RSL joined MLS in 2005.

Real Salt Lake (14-13-6) controlled the first 30 minutes of the game as they were able to create counter attacks as San Jose only had three fullbacks to start the game, leaving them vulnerable in its defensive zone.

In the ninth minute, RSL drew first blood. A failed clearing attempt by San Jose led to the ball ending up on the foot of Albert Rusnák. The Slovakian striker made a nice give and go with Damir Kreilach and Rusnák finished off the play with a chip in past Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski for his ninth goal of the season.

Real Salt Lake came very close to doubling their lead in the 26th minute. A point blank shot from five yards out by Rubio Rubín was stopped by Marcinkowski.

San Jose (10-13-10) turned the tides in the 37th minute. Cade Cowell, who was inserted back into the starting lineup by head coach Matias Almeyda, received a long ball along the right side. The 17-year old forward raced down the right side and centered a ball into the middle where Carlos Fierro diving attempt put the ball into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.

The Quakes earned their first lead of the game in the third minute of stoppage time. Off of a corner, Fierro serviced the ball over to the right side where an unmarked Chris Wondolowski, who also made his return to the starting 11, headed the ball past Real Salt Lake goalie David Ochoa for his fourth goal of the season to cap off an entertaining opening half.

Wondo increased his MLS all-time goal total to 170. With his 13th goal all-time against Real Salt Lake, Wondolowski tied Landon Donovan for the most has scored more against RSL since they joined MLS in 2005 (including playoffs).

San Jose increased its lead to 3-1 in the 69th minute after a spectacular individual effort for Cowell. Marcinkowksi started a counter attack as he kicked the ball out to Cowell near midfield. Cowell raced in, faked out Justen Glad with a move into the middle of the box, then got Ochoa to bite right as Cowell slid the ball into the lower left corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.

It was Cowell’s first goal since back in May of this year.

The Quakes looked to have put the nail in the coffin in the 79th minute when captain Jackson Yueill pick pocketed the ball off of Rusnák just outside the box. Yueill slammed home a shot top-shelf for his third goal of the season. It proved to be the game winning goal.

Real Salt Lake scored twice in the final eight minutes of the game to make the game closer than it should have been.

Anderson Julio sent a cross into the middle that hopped over two players onto the foot of Maikel Chang for his second goal of the season in the 85th minute.

Rusnák scored his second goal of the match after his left unmarked inside the box and one-timed a centering feed from Aaron Herrera in the third minute of stoppage time for his 10th goal of the season,

Marcinkowski finished the match six saves on nine shots to earn his 10th win of the season. Ochoa made two saves on six shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with 0 corner kicks. Real Salt Lake had 0.

Real Salt Lake had its seven game home winning streak snapped. It had equaled NYCFC for the longest home winning streak of the season. It was also the longest home winning streak in Real Salt Lake’s MLS history.

Damir Kreilach scored his 15th goal of the season in Real Salt Lake’s win over Dallas on Wednesday. Only two players have scored more goals in a single season in RSL’s history: Álvaro Saborio (17) in 2012 and Jeff Cunning ham (16) in 2006.

UP NEXT: The Earthquakes close out the regular season against FC Dallas on Sunday 11/7 at 3:00pm at Pay Pal Park.

Earthquakes second half onslaught buries Austin FC 4-0 shutout win

San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Carlos Fierro (7) celebrates by putting the futbol inside his shirt and running down field with his thumb in his mouth as the Quakes blank the visiting Austin FC at Pay Pal Park in San Jose Wed Oct 20, 2021 (USA Today photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—The San Jose Earthquakes still have a pulse in its bid to make the MLS Playoffs.

The home team scored four answered goals in the second half to route Austin FC 4-0 on Wednesday evening at Pay Pal Park.

San Jose snapped its three match losing streak in what are must win games down the stretch. With 36 points, they are six points out of the seventh and final playoff spot (the Los Angeles Galaxy currently sit in seventh with 42 points) in the Western Conference. The expansion Austin FC have lost two matches in a row and a league worse 19 matches.

San Jose (9-12-9) dictated the pace of play from the get go. They had the pitch tilted in their favor for the majority of the first half.

In the 18th minute, Jeremy Ebobisse fired in a shot from just outside the D box but saved by Austin FC goalie Brad Stuver.

Then in the 31st minute, a cross from Marcos Lopez just skidded past the sliding Andy Rios who was open down the middle of the box.

Benji Kikanovic had a chip shot that bent just wide right of the goal in the 38th minute. In the 42nd minute, Eric Remedi sent Ebobisse in on a breakaway but his shot attempt was saved by Stuver as the veteran goalie came out and challenge the attempt.

Austin FC (7-19-4) were too busy defending their own zone for the majority of the first half to generate any dangerous scoring chances as they only generated two total shots in the first 45 minutes.

It didn’t take long in the second half for the Earthquakes to break through on the scoreboard. In the 47th minute, Kikanovic obtained possession of the ball along the left sideline and dribbled in when his pass deflected off of Alex Ring into the middle of the box. Chofis collected the ball and buried the ball into an empty net for his team leading 12th goal of the season.

San Jose doubled its lead six minutes later. Remedi started a counter attack when he sent a long ball into midfielder where Ebobisse gained possession. Ebobisse was interfered with by Zan Kolmanic as the ball squirted out to Kikanovic on the left wing. Kikanovic raced in on a breakaway and was able to get Stuver to commit early before he sent in a shot past him into the lower right side of the net for his third goal of the season in the 53rd minute.

Austin FC had its only quality scoring chance in the 56th minute. Off of a free kick, the ball found its way to the foot of Sebastian Driussi. His shot attempted deflected off Ebobisse and then off Tanner Beason as San Jose conceded a corner kick. The visiting team did not convert the subsequent corner kick.

Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda brought in Chris Wondolowski, Paul Marie and Cristian Espinoza as subs in the 58th minute.

The moves had an immediate pay off. In the 59th minute, Espinoza sent in a cross from right to left. The ball deflected off the foot of former Quake Nick Lima right over to Wondolowski. The MLS all-time leading goal scorer one-timed the ball with a chip into the upper right corner of the net for his third goal of the season.

Wondo now has 165 goals in his MLS career.

San Jose put the icing on the cake in the 85th minute off of a corner kick. Espinoza recorded his second assist of the match when he sent the ball into the middle where an unmarked Carlo Fierro’s running header found its way into the lower right corner of the net for his 2nd goal of the season.

Espinoza has a team leading eight assists on the season.

Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski finished the match with four saves for his fifth clean sheet of the season. Stuver made five saves on nine shots on target in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with 10 corner kicks. Austin FC had eight.

The last time San Jose hosted an expansion team, the Quakes prevailed 1-0 over FC Cincinnati on May 4, 2019. Nick Lima, who now plays for Austin FC, scored the lone goal for the Earthquakes.

UP NEXT: San Jose hosts the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday 10/23 at 7:00pm at Pay Pal Park.

Arango’s brace powers LAFC past Earthquakes 3-1

The San Jose Earthquakes’ Carlos Fierro (7) and Chris Wondolowski (8) share congratulations during their game against the Seattle Sounders FC on Wed May 12, 2021 at Pay Pal Park in San Jose. The Quakes lost to LAFC on Sat Oct 16, 2021 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles (Bay Area News Group file photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

LOS ANGELES—Cristian Arango has been carrying LAFC on his shoulders since Carlos Vela went down to injury as they fight for their playoff lives.

Arango had a brace and an assist in his team’s 3-1 over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday afternoon at Banc of California Stadium.

LAFC are unbeaten in its last two matches (1-0-1) and sit in eight place in the Western Conference with 37 points, one point behind Minnesota FC, who have 38 points and currently the final playoff berth. San Jose have lost three games in a row and and their fading playoff hopes suffered another blow with five games remaining in the season. They are in 10 tenth place with 33 points.

Vela has missed the Black & Gold’s last eight games with a hamstring injury. He missed three games at the beginning of the season with a different injury as well.

LAFC (10-12-7) drew first blood early in the match. In the third minute, a turnover by San Jose led to Arango sending a back pass into the middle of the box where Danny Musovski crashed in and buried a shot through two Quakes defenders and Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski for his fourth goal of the season.

San Jose (8-12-9) had a chance in the 24th minute to even the score. Jeremy Ebobisse, who made his first appearance since suffering a head injury on September 4th, received the ball inside the box but his chip attempt into an empty net was swept away by Kim Moon-Hwan before the ball was able to cross the goal line.

Arango set up his first goal when he was able to get Jackson Yueill to concede a penalty inside the box in the 26th minute. Yueill made contact with Arango but the Colombian striker sold the penalty when he immediately went down in a heap on the pitch. Referee Alan Kelly ruled Yueill did enough to earn the penalty.

Two minutes later, Arango, better known as “Chicho” came up slowly, hesitated and then shot the ball to the left side, as Marcinkowki guessed to the right, to convert the penalty kick for his team leading seventh goal of the season.

San Jose had two scoring chances during stoppage time at the end of the first half but Ebobisse’s shot went high over the net and Benji Kinkanovic had his shot attempt blocked by an LAFC defender.

“I believe in the first half we were pretty inaccurate when we had the ball,” said Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “They put their chances away and we did not.”

Almeyda made all of his substitutions early in the second half as he looked to maintain the momentum his team seized late in the first half. He inserted Cade Cowell, Chris Wondolowski and Andy Rio in the 55th minute to keep the offensive pressure inside LAFC’s defensive zone.

In the 61st minute the moves paid off as San Jose cut the lead in half off a set piece. Chofis serviced a corner kick near the right post where Rios headed the ball past LAFC goalie Jamal Blackman over to Carlo Fierro, who came in as a sub to start the second half, and he knocked the ball off his chest into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

San Jose had three quality scoring chances in the final 15 minutes to even the match, but Blackman came away with highway robber each time. Cowell first chance in the 75th minute was a blazing shot from just outside the box that Blackman needed both hands to knock the ball away. Jack Skahan’s attempt in the 83rd minute was stoned away by Blackman.

Cowell’s second chance in the 83rd minute from outside the box was thwarted by a diving save thanks to the quick reflexes of Blackman that ended with frustration for San Jose.

“The first 20-30 minutes was tough I think,” said midfielder Shea Salinas. “But our team settled in and ended up playing well the second half. It just wasn’t enough.”

LAFC put the game away in the 88th minute when Brian Rodriguez won a challenge along the midfield sideline along with Yueill. Rodriguez created a two-on-one odd man rush and serviced a ball from left to right over to Arango who one-timed the ball into the far left corner for his second goal of the match and eighth of the season.

Blackman finished the match with five saves to earn the victory. Marcinkowski made two saves on four shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: Each team finished the match with three corner kicks.

Los Angeles FC won their first five meetings with the Earthquakes in MLS, outscoring them, 20-4. San Jose had won all four meetings since, the first team to beat LAFC four straight times in MLS play, regular season or playoffs.

After not allowing more than one goal in 11 straight matches (9 total goals conceded) from mid-July to mid-September, San Jose has conceded at least three goals in five of its last six games (16 total goals conceded). The only team the Earthquakes held under three goals in that time was LAFC (2-0 win on September 25).

Los Angeles FC has held opponents to just 9.9 shots per match, second fewest in MLS (NYCFC – 9.3), though opponents have scored with a league-high 14.9 percent of those shots. San Jose had a total of 15 shots in the match.

Eric Remedi has received 12 yellow cards this season, tied with Leandro González Pirez for most in MLS. Remedi has also been fouled 97 times, 14 more than any other player in the league in 2021.

UP NEXT: San Jose hosts Austin FC on Wednesday 10/20 at 7:30pm at Pay Pal Park.

Earthquakes beat Cruz Azul in 2-0 shutout friendly

San Jose Earthquakes get a shutout in a late evening friendly match at Pay Pal Park in San Jose over Cruz Azul (photo from @SJEarthquakes)

by Marko Ukalovic

The San Jose Earthquakes scored two goals in the second half as they shutout Liga MX’s Cruz Azul 2-0 in an International friendly on Thursday evening at Pay Pal Park.

Cruz Azul has a 2-1-3 record and is currently in sixth place in Liga MX’s Torneo Apertura 2021, the first of two championships during the 2021-2022 season. The historic club won the most recent championship (Torneo Clausura 2021) after finishing with a league-best 13-2-2 record and winning all three of its playoff matchups.

Cruz Azul has won nine Liga MX championships, with its title earlier this year the club’s first since 1997. Additionally, Cruz Azul has won six Concacaf Champions League titles, four Copa MX titles, three Campeon de Campeones championships, one Supercopa MX, and one Leagues Cup.

Cruz Azul is the only Mexican team to ever win a treble, lifting the Liga MX, Copa MX and Champions League trophies in the same season (1997).

There wasn’t much action on the scoreboard in the first 45 minutes as both teams went into the locker room at halftime deadlocked at 0-0.

However, these two teams played like bitter rivals as tempers flared late in the first half.

In the 37th minute after a foul, both teams were pushing and shoving one another inside the Quakes defensive zone. As the teams began to separate from the melee, a fan, under the influence of liquid courage, jumped from the stands onto the field and rushed the players.

Quakes goalie Daniel Vega, who made his first start this year, was the first one to confront the fan. MLS all-time leading scorer and Quakes captain Chris Wondolowski was able to get the fan, who had been wearing a blue lucha libra wrestling mask, in a headlock and drive him down to the ground before security arrived on the scene to escort the fan out of the stadium.

Cruz Azul’s star forward Jonathan Rodriguez and the Quakes top fullback Nathan were both ejected from the match for their involvement in the melee as both teams finished the rest of the match each down a man.

San Jose broke the ice in the 58th minute when Paul Marie blasted a shot from 20 yards out into the upper right corner of the net beating Cruz Azul goalie Jose de Jesus Corona.

Cruz Azul’s best chance to score came in the 62nd minute. Santiago Gimenez sent in a shot from the right wing but Vega made a diving save to the left. The rebound by Pablo Aguilar was also sent away by Vega for a corner kick.

The Quakes put the game away in the 72nd minute when they doubled their lead. Jeremy Ebobisse, who came in as a substitute in the second half in his first match action in two months, serviced a ball from left to right over to Cristian Espinoza. The ball was misplayed by Roberto Alvarado that sprung Espinoza on a breakaway. Espinoza dribbled in from the right wing, around a defender, into the middle before firing a shot past Corona right down the middle of the net.

GAME NOTES: San Jose now holds a 12-11-11 all-time record in international exhibitions, and a record of 2-8-4 against teams from Mexico.

The Earthquakes now hold a 1-0-1 record against Cruz Azul and a 2-8-4 record against teams from Mexico. Tonight’s win marks the first time the Quakes have defeated a Liga MX team since Sept. 6, 2012 (W 1-0 vs. San Luis FC).

UP NEXT: The Earthquakes return to MLS action on Saturday, Oct. 16 when they take on LAFC at Banc of California Stadium. The match kicks off at 12:30 p.m.

White’s hat trick power Whitecaps to 3-0 shutout win over Earthquakes

Vancouver Whitecaps Cristian Dajome (center) is upended by the San Jose Earthquakes Nathan Brazil (left) at BC Place in Vancouver on Sat Oct 2, 2021 (Canadian Press via AP)

 

by Marko Ukalovic

Brian White is definitely enjoying his change of scenery.

The Vancouver Whitecaps striker scored a hat trick to lead his team to a 3-0 shutout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday evening at BC Place.

Since being traded from the New York Red Bulls back in June, White has scored nine goals in 20 matches since his arrival, with eight of those coming in his last nine games. He had zero goals with New York.

Vancouver are unbeaten in its last four matches (2-0-2) and have climbed up to eighth place in the Western Conference, one point behind Minnesota for the final playoff spot. San Jose have lost two matches in a row and are quietly slipping away from the playoff race with six games remaining in the season.

White scored his first goal after a nice touch pass over to Ryan Gauld inside the box. Gauld’s shot was saved by Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski but the rebound was cleaned up by White in the 26th minute.

San Jose (8-11-9-33 points) only generated two shots on target in the first 45 minutes. Both shots by Cristian Espinoza in the 25th minute and Jackson Yueill in the 39th minute were easily handled by Whitecaps goalie Maxime Crépeau.

Vancouver (9-8-10-37 points) doubled their lead in the 59th minute off a set piece. Déiber Caicedo floated a free kick from near the right end line into the middle where an unmarked White headed the ball into the back of the net in the upper left corner for his second goal of the evening.

“We had to make movements to free up players in certain zones,” said Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “Those movements were slow. I thought the match was even in the first half. On three or four occasions, we were able to have the control we were looking for. We met a team that has been growing in important ways, with a secure system of play. We knew that if we conceded a goal, it would be hard to turn it around because they are secure on defense. In the second half, we took more risks. The set piece played a fundamental factor against us.”

White completed the hat trick in the 73rd minute once again off another set piece. This time Gauld serviced a corner kick into the middle of the box and once again the Quakes left White unmarked for a header just inside the right corner of the goal for his ninth goal of the season.

The closest San Jose came to getting on the board came late in the second half. Espinoza sent in a shot from 25 yards out but Crépeau made a jumping catch to preserve the shutout.

“We have to keep improving but we have less and less time. We’re talking about the last six games and a projection of our future in which there is some instability. Personally, I’d like to plan for what is coming up. We have to live day by day, we’d love to plan for the future, but the reality is different,” Almeyda said.

Crépeau finished the match stopping all five shots on target to earn his ninth victory of the season. Marcinkowski made three saves on six shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: Each team finished with four corner kicks.

San Jose is now 8-10-10 all-time vs. Vancouver, including a 2-9-3 record on the road.

San Jose had its eight-game unbeaten streak on the road, longest in club history, snapped with the loss.

UP NEXT: San Jose return to action on Saturday 10/16 when they travel out to Los Angeles to take on LAFC at 12:30pm at Banc of California Stadium.

Sounders score three unanswered goals en route to 3-1 win over Earthquakes

Seattle Sounders forward Raul Ruidiaz, right, celebrates with teammate Cristian Roldan, left after scoring a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes in the first half at Pay Pal Park in San Jose on Wed Sep 29, 2021 (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE–Seattle is a force to be reckon with thanks to their dynamic duo of of Raul Ruidiaz and Cristian Roldan.

The two were involved in all three goals the Sounders scored as they cruised to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening at Pay Pal Park.

San Jose had its two match winning streak snapped. The Western Conference leaders have won two matches in a row and now have 51 points on the season.

Seattle (15-5-6-51 points) drew first blood in the 25th minute. Roldan serviced a ball over to Ruidiaz at the top of the D box. Ruidiaz dribbled in without any interference from a Quakes defender and beat Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski with a left-footed shot for his team leading 15th goal of the season.

Things took a turn for the worse for San Jose (8-10-9-33 points) late in the first half when they conceded a penalty shot in the 41st minute. Roldan got in behind the Quakes defense inside the box and a diving attempt by Marcinkowski where Roldan was tripped up, resulted in a penalty by referee Allen Chapman.

Ruidiaz converted the penalty kick to the far left corner for a brace and 16th goal of the season in the 42 minute.

The Quakes didn’t generate any quality scoring chances in the first 45 minutes as they only attempted two total shots.

Seattle scored its third unanswered goal four minutes into the second half. A turnover by the Quakes in their defensive zone led to Jimmy Medranda servicing the ball into the middle from the left side as Roldan swooshed in and deflected the ball with his right foot past Marcinkowski for his fourth goal of the season in the 49th minute.

They’re a do a great job,” said Chris Wondolowski regarding Seattle’s tactical play. “Especially with their back three (defensive backs). Their best trait is they are able to push out and those three center backs do such a great job.”

The Quakes broke Sounders goalie Stefan Frei’s bid for a shutout two minutes later when Seattle conceded an own goal. Marcos Lopez serviced a ball into the middle where Benji Kinkanovic raced in with a sliding attempt but the ball was redirected in by Sounders defender Shane O’Neill.

That would be as close as San Jose would get in trying to earn any points during the match. Their offense was out of sync, misfiring on passes and moments of indecision led to Seattle laying back and playing a prevent defense throughout the second half.

“In the first half we weren’t able to find that path,” said Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda regarding the Sounders clogging up the middle of the pitch. “We made mistakes. And that means I think we didn’t have control of the game and couldn’t get to the final third of the field.”

Seattle countered whenever San Jose tried to press but weren’t able to add on as they were content with the three points.

Frei finished the match with three saves to earn the victory. Marcinkowski made two saves on five shots on target in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with 10 corner kicks. Seattle had just two.

The Quakes hold a 11-15-8 all-time record against Seattle Sounders FC, including a record of 5-5-5 at home. San Jose and Seattle had traded 1-0 road victories in their first two meetings this season.

Seattle has an 9-2-2 road record this season and are 6-1-0 in their last seven matches away from home.

UP NEXT: San Jose travel up to Vancouver to take on the Whitecaps on Saturday 10/2 at 7:00pm at BC Place.

Chofis scores another goal, Earthquakes shutout LAFC 2-0

San Jose Earthquakes shutout LAFC at Pay Pal Park in San Jose on Sat Sep 25, 2021 (image from google.com)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE—In what felt like a playoff type of atmosphere, the San Jose Earthquakes took down LAFC in a 2-0 shutout victory on Saturday evening at Pay Pal Park.

San Jose has won two matches in a row. LAFC have lost two matches in a row. The Quakes are now in a three-way tied for eighth place in the Western Conference with LAFC and Vancouver with 33 points. All three are chasing Real Salt Lake, who have 36 points, for seventh and the final playoff spot in the conference.

LAFC (9-11-6-33 points) were without two of their best players. Carlos Vela was out due a to hamstring injury he suffered back on August 22nd. Diego Rossi has been on loan to Turkish club Fenerbahçe since September 1st.

San Jose (8-9-9-33 points) drew first blood early in the match. A giveaway by LAFC led to a counter attack led by Chofis. The reigning MLS player of the week slipped in a nice pass between two LAFC defenders over to Benji Kikanovic. The 21-year old native of San Jose went around LAFC goalie Tomás Romero before depositing the ball into an empty for his second goal of the season in the third minute.

“I think Benji is one of the young players that is learning day-by-day,” said Quakes head coach Matias Almeyda. “He has perfectly understood the identity we want the players to have at San Jose. He is a player with pace, he is good in the aerial game and has great technique. He really works a lot for the team. He was able to put away the chance that came from a great pass from Chofis. He also worked hard in the defensive phase. I am really pleased when the young players perform well. It makes me happy for them and for the club.”

LAFC’s best chance to score in the first half was in the 23rd minute when Jose Cifuentes had an open shot from 15 yard outs, but Quakes middle back Nathan deflected the ball out of danger with his right foot.

Quakes midfielder Cristian Espinoza was apparently tripped down inside the box in the 34th minute. Instead of receiving a penalty kick on the play, Referee Jair Marrufo issued a yellow card to Espinoza for what only Marrufo thought was a dive by Espinoza.

San Jose doubled its lead right out of the gate to start the second half. Marco Lopez won a ball on the left side along the end line. He serviced the ball into the middle where Chofis fired a one-timer from 10 yards out past Romero for his team leading 11th goal of the season in the 47th minute.

“I think there are still a lot of games left,” said captain Jackson Yuiell. “It’s still really close and these two games were important for us. We’ve narrowed down to the last third of the season. We learned from our first year to last year of when to push and when to hit our stride.”

Chofis has six goals in his last three games as the Mexican national has taken the team on his back and is carrying them closer to a playoff berth.

The Quakes had a chance to put the nail in the coffin in the 55th minute. Lopez serviced a ball from left to right where Eric Remedi’s header hit off the right corner off the post.

After making a round of substitutions early in the second half, LAFC gained some momentum with two quality scoring chances.

In the 57th minute, Cristian Arango headed a pass into the middle where Danny Musovski’s right footed shot sailed wide right.

Then in the 69th minute, Cifuentes serviced ball into the middle of the box that Raheem Edwards crashed in from the right side but his left footed shot hit off the crossbar and over for a goal kick.

San Jose’s defense held down the fort in the final 30 minutes as they did not allow LAFC to get a quality chance .

Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski finished the night with three saves to earn his eighth victory and fourth shutout of the season. Romero didn’t register a save on the two shots on target in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with no corner kicks on the evening. LAFC had three corner kicks.

San Jose is 4-0-0 in its last four matches versus LAFC and are 4-5-0 all-time, including a 3-2-0 record at home.

Chofis became the first Earthquakes player to score in three straight matches since Vako in July 2019. His assist on Kikanovic’s goal, marking his third assist of the season and first game-winning assist.

Midfielder Shea Salinas entered the match as a substitute in the 82nd minute, marking his first appearance since Sept. 4 against the Colorado Rapids.

Lopez, Nathan and Luciano Abecasis were also issued yellow cards during the match.

UP NEXT: The Quakes host the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday 9/29 at 7:30pm at Pay Pal Park.

Earthquakes three unanswered goals top Austin FC in 4-3 comeback win

Austin FC goalie Austin Stuver gathers his thoughts after surrendering three unanswered goals to the San Jose Earthquakes at Q2 Stadium in Austin on Sat Sep 18, 2021 (AP News photo)

by Marko Ukalovic

AUSTIN, Texas—Minus their head coach, the San Jose Earthquakes flipped the script on their opponent just three days later after blowing a lead in the second half.

Down by a two-goal margin, the Quakes scored three unanswered goals in the second half for a 4-3 comeback victory over the expansion Austin FC on Saturday evening at Q2 Stadium.

San Jose are now 2-2-1 in their last five games. Austin FC have lost their last five matches in a row. With the win, the Quakes jumped from 11th to ninth place in the Western Conference. They sit just three points out of the seventh and final playoff spot with 30 points.

It was San Jose’s first win over the new expansion team. They are 1-0-1 in two matches this season against Austin FC.

Austin FC (5-16-4-19 points) didn’t look like the worst team in MLS as they jumped out of the gate early with the match’s first goal six minutes into the match.

Sebastian Driussi cleaned up a rebound off a header by Moussa Djitte that Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski saved but wasn’t able to keep the ball out of Driussi’s reach as the center forward buried the ball into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.

San Jose (7-9-9-30 points) answered back in the 17th minute off a corner kick. Carlos Fierro centered the ball back to the middle where a running Marco Lopez from 12 yards outs powered in a header past the reach of Austin FC goalie Brad Stuver for his first goal of the season.

Austin FC played aggressive and attacked the Quakes as they scored two goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

A nice give and go between Alexander Ring and Daniel Pereira led to Ring finding Jon Gallagher all alone on the right side as the midfielder tapped home the ball into an empty net for his third goal of the season in the 35th minute.

Right before halftime Ring capitalized on the Quakes relaxed defense. He received the ball just into the attacking zone when he dribbled in and fired a shot from 25 yards out into the lower left corner of the net beating Marcinkowski for his fourth goal of the season.

San Jose, who were without head coach Matias Almeyda as he was serving a one-game suspension for un-sportsman like conduct he directed toward the officials in the match against Real Salt Lake, responded with a bang once the whistle blew to begin the second half.

Lopez serviced a ball from the left sideline into the middle where Benji Kikanovic made a brilliant one-time touch pass to the left to free Espinoza, who got behind the Austin FC defense before he fired a right-footed shot past Stuver into the lower right corner for his third goal of the season in the 49th minute.

The Quakes received a break when Ring was whistled for hand ball inside the box after a VAR review, resulting in a penalty kick for the visiting team in the 56th minute.

Two minutes later, Chofis, who had a hatrick in his last match, converted the penalty with a left-footed shot just inside the right post for his team leading ninth goal of the season.

Chofis wasn’t done, as he answered the bell again just five minutes later to give the Quakes their first lead of the match in the 63rd minute. A bouncing ball found Chofis in the attacking zone. He fired a shot from long range that Stuver punched back out. Chofis picked up his own rebound between three Austin FC defenders, faked a move right then went left before lasering in a shot past Stuver for his 10th goal of the season.

Choifis has been played like a man possessed in the past two matches with five goals.

“”I am very happy for him,” said Almeyda about his foward’s recent success. “There was great sacrifice in getting him to San Jose and reaching the level he is currently at after going a year and a half without playing. He changed the way he trains and lives football, including his professionalism and calmness. When I see him progressing in the sport, it makes me very pleased because he is progressing in life, and no one talks about that.”

Ring received his second yellow card of the match and an automatic red card when he made a hard tackle foul on Eric Remedi in the 65th minute. Ring will be suspended for the next match.

Despite being down a man for the final 35, plus nine minutes of stoppage time, Austin FC controlled the play of the rest of the match with numerous scoring chances and corner kicks in the final 15 minutes of play. However, the Quakes defense anchored down led by saves from Marcinkowksi to escape the Lone Star state with three points in the end.

“Resiliency is a great word,” said Marcinkowski when being asked how the team have been resilient this season. “I think it’s something we always talk about in our locker room. The belief and fight and just the will to win. I think we’ve been in so many close games this year and I think we’ve been a little bit hesitant or have been missing the final pass or final goal, or final save from me. I think we showed tonight that we can do it and have nine games left to show it and show the rest of the league that we’re a team to really watch out for.”

Marcinkowski finished the match with seven saves on 10 shot on target to earn his seventh win of the season. Stuver made four saves on eight shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: Each team conceded eight corner kicks to each other.

The Quakes are now unbeaten in eight consecutive road matches, the longest such run in club history (2003).

San Jose’s last two matches have resulted in 14 total goals (for and against), the most in consecutive matches in club history.

Lopez now has three goals in his MLS career. His goal also marks the first goal against Austin FC in Earthquakes history.

Fierro’s assist on Lopez’s goal, marked his third assist of the season and 10th of his MLS career.

Chofis became the first Quakes player to score 5+ goals in a two-game span since Chris Wondolowski tallied six from May 18, 2019 (4) to May 26, 2019 (2).

Kikanovic’s assist on Espinoza’s goal, marked his first assist of the season and of his MLS career. The match also marked his second MLS start.

Defender Tommy Thompson started and played 68 minutes. It marked his first appearance since June 22.

UP NEXT: San Jose returns home to host LAFC on Saturday 9/25 at 7:00pm at Pal Pay Park.