Colorado Rapids striker Diego Rubio celebrates his first half goal with his teammates at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday Sep 14, 2022. (Colorado Rapids)
by Marko Ukalovic
The inevitable finally became a formality.
The Colorado Rapids mathematically eliminated the San Jose Earthquakes from playoff contention in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
San Jose has lost two matches in a row with four left to play in the regular season. Colorado is 2-3-2 in its past seven matches as they fight for their playoff lives sitting four points out of seventh place in the Western Conference.
San Jose (7-14-9-30 points) had a complete 180 degree performance from this past Saturday where they were whipped 6-0 by FC Cincinnati. The ‘Quakes outplayed the Rapids for much of the match as they controlled possession and generated quality scoring chances.
“Difficult,” said ‘Quakes interim head coach Alex Covelo on losing such a tough match. “It’s very difficult when you play like that, when you create chances to win against Colorado here. After the defeat at Cincinnati, playing how we played tonight, it is very difficult. They scored that second goal, and if they shoot one million shots again maybe they’ll score again. But it is difficult.”
Colorado (10-12-12-42 points) drew first blood in the 21st minute. A cross attempt by Jonathan Lewis deflected off the back of Paul Marie over to Diego Rubio. The Chilean striker blasted a right footed one-timer through the hands of ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski for his team leading 14th goal of the season.
The Earthquakes countered off of a set piece in the 37th minute. Cristian Espinoza sent in a corner kick to near the post where an unmarked Nathan raced in and headed the ball past Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough for his second goal of the season. Nathan has four goals in a ‘Quakes uniform.
They corner kick was set up with a nice run from Cade Cowell who dished the ball off to Jamiro Monteiro who fired a shot from just above the D only to have Yarbrough make a diving safe knocking it the ball out.
In the second half, San Jose had a chance to garner its first lead of the match in the 69th minute when Espinoza centered a ball over to Cowell inside the box. However, Cowell’s shot hit off the crossbar as Colorado cleared the ball away.
The Rapids regained the lead in the 77th minute off a counter attack. Max set up Keegan Rosenberry along the right wing. The ‘Quakes defense sat back while Rosenberry dribbled in a rifled a shot from 25 yards out into the upper right corner for his second goal of the season.
Despite being eliminated, Covelo believes his team still has something to play for in their final four matches.
“Today I feel very proud of them, I feel we deserved to win, and it hurts. The guys know, but right now what we need to do is keep playing and finish as high as possible in the standings. That’s the main objective right now. I do not know if it’s because I come from a country where there is regulation, so I do not want to see the team in a position like that. We need to keep fighting to finish well,” Covelo said.
Yarbrough finished the night with two saves on three shots on target to earn the victory. Marcinkowski made just one save on three shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with six corner kicks. Colorado had eight.
San Jose is now 31-25-18 all-time vs. the Colorado Rapids, including a 13-16-9 record on the road. Colorado is undefeated at home against San Jose since 2014 with a record of 6-0-5.
Espinoza’s assist on Nathan’s goal marked his 18th of the season and 43rd overall for San Jose. He is now one assist away from tying Eddie Lewis for the most assists in a single season in club history. Espinoza is also now one assist away from tying Richard Mulrooney for the second most assists in club history.
Colorado is 7-3-3 when scoring first this season.
UP NEXT: San Jose returns home for a three-match homestand when they host FC Dallas on Saturday 9/17 at 7:30pm at Pay Pal Stadium.