Espinoza’s hat trick give Earthquakes 4-3 comeback win over Sounders

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.

Quakes fall into “Sea of Red” in 3-1 loss

photo from

By Pearl Allison Lo

San Jose went into Atlanta Saturday, went down a man, Coach Matías Almeyda was ejected again and Captain Chris Wondolowski received a red card from the bench as another Bay Area team entered a “sea of red” and emerged with a loss.

The Quakes remain winless versus Atlanta United as their road game losing streak stretched to six as they faced the second place team in the Eastern Conference this time.  

San Jose’s Cristian Espinoza’s run which tied the game was sandwiched in between two yellow cards to him as well, putting the Quakes down a man in the 34th minute. 

With just a game in between free, Almeyda was forced to leave the game again late in the match.

Wondolowski received his penalty from the bench in 91st minute in between Atlanta goals for a foul and abusive language.

An added note to Espinoza’s run, it ended up being an own goal by keeper Brad Guzan, that came after fellow keeper Daniel Vega sent a rainbow from his side to Espinoza.

A different Bay Area team that was also involved with an own goal recently, happened in the hockey world versus red-clad fans in the stands too. The last goal of the San Jose Sharks game Wednesday was an own goal by the Sharks, which was credited to the Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau. 

Returning back to soccer, the game started with the Quakes going down early after Justin Meram scored in the fourth minute. The ball was helped by a deflection off defender Florian Jungwirth on the way into the net. 

Espinoza’s first card came in the 16th minute for interfering with the throw-in

The second yellow and subsequent red came after a tussle with Franco Escobar. 

Atlanta’s Emerson Hyndman had an opportune chance in the 46th minute, especially with a defensive breakdown, but missed to the left. 

Besides the obvious uphill battle, ended up being outshot 4-0 in the first half after four minutes of stoppage time. Atlanta had the slight possession edge 51.3% to 48.7%

It was quiet and even in the second half at first with Gonzalo Martínez having one attempt saved, the other missed, teammate Brandon Vázquez’s attempt saved and San Jose substitute Danny Hoesen’s attempt saved.

Then Atlanta took a hit in the second half when Josef Martínez (who did not have a shot in the game) was found on the sidelines twice and eventually pulled off on a stretcher because of presumably his knee. His MLS goal-scoring streak had been active since May 24 for 15 games. Martínez’s substitute Mohammed Adams took his place in the 79th minute. 

Martínez’s teammates then amped up their play. Leandro González, Vázquez and Julian Gressel had misses in the 79th through 81st minutes before Vega stepped up with saves versus Hyndman, Darlington Nagbe and Miles Robinson in the 82nd, 84th and 85th minutes.

It would be too much though as the Quakes’ chances dissolved when Hyndman scored a redemption goal in the 90th minute, Wondolowski got his red card for perhaps the first time in his 300th MLS start and Martínez made it 3-2 in the 92nd minute.

San Jose substitute Andrés Ríos made two more attempts, which were saved and blocked as did Gressel and Adams (both saved) before the final whistle was blown. 

Atlanta finished with 18 shots (Hyndman and Martínez four shots apiece) to the Quakes’ three and with 60.7% possession. 

Up Next: Despite key pieces missing now, San Jose will look to right the ship when they host the Philadelphia Union Wednesday at 8 pm for the first of a two-game homestand.