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.