The San Jose Earthquakes celebrate a penalty-kick goal by Cristian Espinoza during the second half against the Seattle Sounders at Pay Pal Park in San Jose on Sat Apr 23, 2022 (AP News photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
SAN JOSE– Cristian Espinoza picked a great time to score his first hat trick.
Espinoza’s penalty shot in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the second half earned the San Jose Earthquakes a 4-3 come from behind victory over the Seattle Sounders on Saturday evening at Pay Pal Park.
With the score even at three, video review concluded that Nouhou Tolo took down Francisco Calvo inside the box to concede the penalty early into stoppage time of the second half.
Espinoza kicked the penalty shot into the lower right corner as Sounders goalie Stefan Frei guessed wrong diving to the left to complete his first hat trick in a Quakes uniform as well as hand San Jose their first win of the season.
This was the first match played since Matias Almeyda was let go as head coach of the team by San Jose this past Monday and the first match coached for interim coach Alex Covelo. He had served as head coach of the club’s MLS NEXT Pro side Quakes II during their inaugural season in 2022. Covelo earned his first win in his coaching debut for the Quakes.
San Jose finally earned its first win in its eighth matches. Seattle have lost two matches in a row after having a three-match point streak.
Seattle (2-4-1) drew first blood on a penalty shot after Nathan took down Raul Ruidiaz inside the box with a sliding tackle. Nicolas Lodeiro converted the penalty in the 14th minute for his first goal of the season.
The Sounders doubled its lead six minutes later in the 20th minute off of a set piece. Lodeiro’s free kick was finished off with a header by Cristian Roldan into the left corner of the net for his first goal of the season.
San Jose (1-4-3) answered back with Espinoza’s first goal of the game in the second minute of stoppage time in the first half. Espinoza cleaned up his own rebound after his initial shot went off a Sounder defender and right back to him for his second goal of the season.
Seattle regained its two-goal lead in the in the 57th minute. Lodeiro picked up his second assist when he set up Jordan Morris with a cross into the middle of the box where Morris tapped it in past Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski for his team leading second goal of the season.
The Quakes began their comeback three minutes later with Espinoza’s second goal of the match. Espinoza sent in a shot from a tough angle that handcuffed Frei and went into the back of the net on the short side in the 64th minute.
San Jose scored the equalizer a minute later when Jackson Yueill scored a tic-tac-toe goal set up by Jamiro Monteiro for Yueill’s first goal of the season.
Marcinkowski finished the match with four saves on seven shots on target to earn his first win of the season. Frei made three saves on seven shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished the match with six corner kicks. Seattle had two.
UP NEXT: San Jose travel to the Big Apple to take on NYFC on Sunday 5/1 at 10:00am at Yankees Stadium.