Earthquakes Take Down Whitecaps 2-1; Have Won five of last six

By Torben Rolfsen

VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA–The San Jose Earthquakes continued their recent sharpness with a 3-1 road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps before an increasingly restless BC Place crowd of 17,558.

Chris Wondolowski, who has a strong history against Vancouver, delivered point-blank to put the Quakes up for good 2-1 in the 34′ after chaos on the Whitecaps goal line.

Vancouver opened the scoring early with a Doneil Henry goal in the 8′ off a free kick by Yordy Reyna.

Vako equalized at the 16′ mark with an opportunistic goal after a little traffic accident in front of the Whitecaps goal. Setting up the score was crisp passing by the Quakes, as Vancouver defenders stood around like a foosball rod without a hand on it.

Nine minutes later, Cristian Espinoza and Vako hooked up for a nice attack, resulting in a great chance, but shot right at Caps ‘keeper Maxime Crepeau.

Magnus Eriksson rounded out the scoring with an insurance marker sixteen minutes before full-time.

The Quakes won for the fifth time in six games and now return home to face Colorado and Columbus the next two Saturdays.

The Caps fell to winless in their last nine (and outscored 17-2 in the past 5), as the supporters’ group section chanted for the firing of club president Bob Lenarduzzi in the final minutes.

Earthquakes Force Draw With A Late Score Against D.C

By Shawn Whelchel

SAN JOSE, California-The San Jose Earthquakes nearly avoided dropping their second consecutive game after returning home to Avaya Stadium on Saturday night, as some late game heroics saw the retro-clad home team escape with a 1-1 draw against D.C. United.

After 87 frustrating minutes that saw San Jose squander multiple looks at the net, the Quakes finally broke through their string of misfortunes when Adam Jahn made a sprinting strike off of a beautiful cross from Shea Shalinas to notch the Quakes one and only goal.

The goal would be all San Jose needed to avoid consecutive losses after a 3-1 downing in Los Angeles two weeks ago.And while the outcome isn’t ultimately what head coach Dominic Kinnear would have hoped for, it was a welcomed sight at the end of a trying effort.

“I though the effort tonight was great. Ties aren’t the same, they’re a little bit different where if we got scored on late, the feeling would have been sickening. But it does give you a lift when you score late and you can get something.”

The score came from an unlikely hero in Jahn, who played a game-low eight minutes. But Kinnear said that the substitution was intended to take advantage of his height to break the opposing defense.

“I thought with Adam we could get a little more territory…I think at that time it helped to have Adam’s height and his eagerness to get on the other side of crosses. Good for him.”

Despite being the aggressors early and often, the San Jose Earthquakes couldn’t find the back of the net in what turned out to be a frustrating first-half for the home team.

San Jose had multiple looks at the net, including tries from Tommy Thompson, Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amarikwa, but couldn’t cash in on the stumbling D.C. defense. But despite the aggressive pushes from the Quakes, it was United who struck first, as Patrick Nyarko took advantage of a momentary lapse in the San Jose’s defense to put the first goal on the board with a sprinter header past the outstretched hands of David Bingham at the 34′ minute mark.

San Jose would nearly add an equalizer just moments later off a beautiful feed from a Wondolowski header near the net, but Amarikwa would be caught jumping offsides to negate the goal. Nyarko’s goal energized the previous lackluster D.C squad, leading to another dangerous attempt from Fabian Espindola at the 38′ minute mark before the Earthquakes would retreat to the locker room at the half with a one score deficit.

The frustrations continued to spill over from the first half for San Jose, as the home team frantically sought to appease the loud Avaya crowd with a flurry of shots to open the second frame.

Alberto Quintero played spoiler to his team’s own cause on a three-man rush towards the net for San Jose. Quintero found himself alone on the left wing with two attacking Quakes on the far side of the pitch, but couldn’t chip the ball over Travis Worra for the score. Moments later, Amarikwa would put his second and third shots on the goal, only to be denied in back-to-back attempts. Both Tommy Thompson and Wondolowski would later find themselves in front of the goal, only to send lazy attempts into the chest of Worra in what seemed like a contest where the Quakes couldn’t buy a goal.

But with the time winding down on San Jose’s efforts, a pair of substitutes would breathe new life into San Jose’s lackluster offense. With San Jose seeming desperate for a solution, Shea Salinas would shake his man on the wing to send a cross towards the sprinting Adam Jahn, whose split-legged slide would add the equalizer for the Earthquakes in the 88′ minute.

The Earthquakes would add one last furious attempt to find the back of the net before the whistle would sound on stoppage time, sending D.C home still in search of their first win of the season, while sneaking away with a point of their own.


Winless Skid at 13 After Earthquakes Fall to Real Salt Lake 2-0

By Matthew T.F. Harrington

Time is winding down for the San Jose Earthquakes to avoid starting next truly anew, free from any reminders of the struggles of the current campaign. Following a 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Quakes are mired in a 13-game winless streak with three games left in the season. San Jose’s last victory came August 2nd in a 1-0 result against the Seattle Sounders, with the match serving as the inaugural event held at Levi’s Stadium.

Real took the lead on a 24th-minute strike from Ned Grabavoy, then Sebastian Velasquez beat San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch four minutes later for the final goal of the game. Salt Lake outshot the short-handed Quakes, more than doubling the Quakes attempts on net (9) with 20.

San Jose partook in its second-straight match short-handed with 17 players. Some notable faces like Atiba Harris (Saint Kitts and Nevis) and Cordell Cato (Trinidad and Tobago) answered the call for international play duties. Also absent from the backline was defender Victor Bernardez, joining his countrymen to represent Honduras in exhibition play.

The Earthquakes’ leading scorer, Chris Wondolowski, also was missing upfront after playing for the United States Men’s National Team in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Ecuador. The game, played at East Hartford, Connecticut’s Rentschler field, marked the final international appearance for former Earthquake Landon Donovan.

Up next for the Earthquakes is an international friendly, with the Quakes welcoming Victor Bernardez’s old Honduran side CDS Vida to Santa Clara. Following the friendly Tuesday, San Jose wraps up the home portion of the schedule with a Saturday evening showdown against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Saturday match-up, a contest pitting the Quakes against a desperate Vancouver squad looking to lock in the last spot in the Western Conference, marks the final game the Quakes will play at Buck Shaw Stadium. They’ll move to a new stadium expected to open at the start of next season. The Quakes still have one more road game, the best shot at snapping the winless skid. San Jose closes out the season at the Stub Hub Center against last place Chivas USA October 26th.

Whitecaps Penalty Kick Tops Quakes

By Matthew Harrington

The search for road win number two, and a much-needed three points in the standings, continues for the San Jose Earthquakes with only eight games remaining. The Quakes continued their tour of the Pacific Northwest Wednesday night with a 2-0 loss at the hands of Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 at BC Place. San Jose, 10 points back of Vancouver for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, went winless on its current three-game road trip. They tied both Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers in the previous two contests.

Pedro Morales put Vancouver (8-6-13, 37 points)on the board, converting on a penalty kick in the 39th minute following a Victor Bernardez infraction, for the Whitecaps first goal in over 450 minutes of play. Bernardez was whistled for delivering an elbow to the back of Kendall Waston in the penalty area on a challenge of a free kick attempt. Waston would head in the Whitecaps second marker in the 56th minute for the 2-0 result.

The Quakes (6-6-15, 27 points) failed to generate any offensive momentum for large chunks of the night, attempting only four shots on goal to Vancouver’s 17. A lone San Jose attempt found its mark, with another two registering as off target. The other attempt was blocked. The Whitecaps managed six shots on target, thanks in part to a slight edge in possession, controlling play 55.8 percent of the night.

A victory for Mark Watson’s Quakes would have bumped San Jose above Colorado for the seventh spot in the Western Conference table. The loss, however, bumped Vancouver over Portland and into the postseason picture. The Whitecaps entered play Wednesday night a point back of the Timbers in sixth place.

Sunday afternoon, the Quakes desperation push will collide with a familiar face, as Landon Donovan’s Los Angeles Galaxy come to Buck Shaw Stadium for an afternoon match. There will be an air of nostalgia of the Quakes glory days with Sunday marking Donovan’s last appearance in front of the San Jose fans that once rooted him on.

The 32-year-old announced on August 7th that this would be his last MLS season. In Donovan’s four seasons as a member of the Quakes, the organization won its two MLS Cups (2001 and 2003). The MLS all-time leader in goals and playoff goals earned MLS Cup Most Valuable Player honors in the 2001 iteration.

Third Time Not a Charm for Quakes to Capture Clasico Magic

By Matthew Harrington

STANFORD, Calif. – There would be no customary rally for the San Jose eleven Saturday night at Stanford Stadium, snapping a streak of thrilling come-from-behind wins in the clash of California sides. Earthquakes supporters expecting the customary late California Clasico offensive burst instead had to settle for the explosions the of post-game fireworks with the Quakes long since retired to their locker room to dwell on the 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy.

For the first time in three years, the Earthquakes (4-6-4) had no answer for the Los Angeles Galaxy. San Jose didn’t need three second-half goals like in 2012, nor did they need stoppage time goals from Shea Salinas and Alan Gordon as they did last season. No, the Quakes needed a lone strike to salvage a point. Unfortunately for the men in blue, time ran out on this year’s comeback bid despite a valiant second half.

“We knew that our performance where it needed to be in the first half,” said Watson. “We had a few moments, we had a few chances. I thought LA dictated the play. We knew we’d have to come out with more energy and use the ball better.”

The two teams battled to a standstill after 45 minutes of play, matching each other move for move. Los Angeles attempted eight shots on goal to the Quakes’ seven, but neither side converted. The two sides appeared even in possession, though LA controlled the play for 55% of the opening half. It was San Jose striker Steven Lenhart however, that had the best chances of the half. Lenhart narrowly missed putting the ball into the back of the net on a pair of headers that beat LA keeper Jaime Penedo but trickled wide of the goalpost.

Gyasi Zardes erased the clean sheet in the 62nd minute, firing a point-blank rocket from dead center past a defenseless Jon Busch to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead. The Galaxy forward was set up on his third goal of the season by Marcelo Sarvas who, with his back to the keeper, found Zardes squared up on goal for the strike. In total, Los Angeles had 17 attempts on net to 13 for the home squad. Five went on goal for Los Angeles, one for the Quakes.

“Our guys competed all night,” said Earthquakes coach Mark Watson. “I thought they just had a little bit more quality on the night. I think it was a game where there wasn’t that many chances. I think we had an equal number of scoring chances, we just couldn’t finish them.”

LA nearly double its advantage in the 72nd minute after midfielder Stefan Ishizaki lofted a shot on net from just outside the penalty box corner to the right of Busch. The ball beat Busch’s cross-body dive and rang off the back post. A Quakes defender swooped in to clear the ball from a hungry Zardes and allow the San Jose netminder to regain position.

Naturally, the man who coined the “Goonies” nickname for San Jose nearly gave the home side new life with a late equalizer. In the 88th minute, Lenhart once again used his head to advance on the Galaxy net. Penedo narrowly managed to get his left fingertips on the bid to preserve his shutout, while Los Angeles (5-3-5) weathered the final surge to nab the three points and hold San Jose off from the seventh spot in the Western Conference. The Galaxy entered play one point (17 total) ahead of the Quakes entering play Saturday. LA continued a five-game unbeaten streak.
San Jose received some bad news before even taking the pitch, as centerback Clarence Goodson was a late scratch after aggravating an injury in warm-ups.

“(Clarence) pulled his groin in the warm-up,” said Watson. “We had to make a late substitution, which was disappointing. We worked with Clarence, he’s a big part of our team. I thought Jason Hernandez came in and did a fantastic job. He had 10 or 15 minutes to get himself mentally prepared and he did what he always does. He battled hard and gave everything he had.”

The Quakes were also short Shea Salinas with an injury while Chris Wondolowski and Victor Bernardez performed World Cup duties. While Bernardez and Honduras were ousted from the preeminent tournament of soccer after group play, he wasn’t quite on a time table to return to MLS play just yet.

“It was going to be close,” said Watson on the status of Bernardez Saturday. “We knew that. He played Wednesday in Brazil. It’s a long flight. He just didn’t feel he could give one hundred percent. He’ll be ready for Wednesday.”

The Quakes may also have Salinas back in the line-up Wednesday at Buck Shaw Stadium when they welcome Chivas USA to the Bay Area. The Quakes previously snapped a season-opening five-game winless streak by topping Chivas 1-0 at Buck Shaw on April 26th.

Earthquakes Start U.S. Open Cup With a Win

Photo Credit: San Jose Earthquakes
Photo Credit: San Jose Earthquakes

By: Joe Lami


The San Jose Earthquakes started their U.S. Open Cup run with a 2-1 victory over Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday Night in front of 3,788 fans at Kezar Stadium.  The Quakes automatically earned a trip into the fourth round by playing in MLS, and hosted their USL affiliate in their first game of the U.S. Open Cup.

Republic FC got on the board first in the 42nd minute when a Justin Braun header from the 6-yard box found the back of the net to get past Quakes Keeper, David Bingham.

Just minutes later, San Jose was able to answer right back on a penalty kick from Kari Stephenson in the 45th minute.  San Jose earned the penalty kick on a weird situation, as Clarence Goodson found the net from a corner kick, however the goal was waived off and San Jose was granted the penalty kick.  “It was weird, usually the referee give advantage, but once he waived it off and gave us the corner, we had to take advantage, and we did,” Earthquakes’ Head Coach Mark Watson commented after the game.

Republic FC dominated much of the second half, but San Jose was able to find the game winner off of a counter attack in the 73rd minute. Cordell Cato found a ball just inside the 18-yard box and hit it low to find its way into the net for the game winner.

Sacramento forced Bingham to come up big at the end of the game, as he made a couple of amazing saves to keep the win and preventing the game go into extra time.

Sacramento was a lot hungrier and proved it by outshooting San Jose 14-9.  “They were motivated and they came out and pressed us right from the start.  After a slow start, we were able to get back into the game,” Watson added.

San Jose continues their U.S. Open Cup Run on June 24, and will take on the winner of Seattle Sounder and Elite PSA.  If Seattle wins, San Jose will travel to Seattle and if Elite PSA wins, San Jose will host the Round of 16 match.

Earthquakes Explode for Three Goals in Dominant Win Over Houston

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA, Calif.–The San Jose Earthquakes earned their second consecutive home win on Sunday Night with an impressive three goal win over the Houston Dynamo.  The win for San Jose also marks the fifth straight time the home team takes away at least one point from Buck Shaw Stadium.

The Earthquakes were able to do it without star, Chris Wondolowski, who is on leave for the United States National Team, in which he was named to the World Cup team earlier this week.  “The guys are trying to fill the void of not having Wondo, and it clearly worked tonight,” said Earthquakes Head Coach, Mark Watson.

Khari Stephenson lead the charge for the Quakes with two goals, his first two of the season.  The first came in the 37th minute after a miscue from the Dynamo lead to an indirect kick for San Jose.  After a tap of the ball from teammate, Shea Salinas,  Stephenson drilled it into the bottom left corner of the net to take the 1-0 lead.  It wouldn’t be until the Second Half until Stephenson scored his second goal.  Steven Lenhart created the opportunity by being a pest in the 18-yard box and drawing a foul.  Stephenson found the bottom left corner again on the penalty kick in the 58th minute.

Atiba Harris capped off the scoring with his first of the season that came off of a hustle play.  On a bouning ball to Houston Goalkeeper Tally Hall, Harris steeped up and applied pressure, beating the keeper to the ball with his head.  The ball took a home bounce of the post and found Harris for the tap in.

Houston forced Quakes Goalkeeper, Jon Busch, to come up huge to earn his clean sheet.  The Dynamo outshoot the Quakes 13-12 and 6-4 with shots on target.  Houston had their best chances come in the 30th and 33rd minutes, as Busch stopped three of the six on target in that span.  In the 30th minute, Warren Creavalle headed a cross inside the six-yard box forcing Busch to make the diving save to his right.  Only three minutes later, Houston found a header once again in the six-yard box off the head of Will Bruin.  Busch made the initial save, but the rebound found the foot of Bruin, where Busch somehow found a way to get in front of that shot as well.  “Those two stops kept us in the game,” added Watson.  Busch earns his fourth clean sheet of the season in the win.

San Jose earns three points in the win, however remains in sixth place in the Western Conference, only trailing the Colorado Rapids by two points.  The Quakes return to the pitch on Saturday, May 31 as they travel to take on FC Dallas.

Quakes “Survive the Storm” for Second Win of 2014

By Matthew Harrington

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — On a night when the San Jose Earthquakes turned back the clock, donning kits similar to their original NASL iterations in their first season in 1974, the best ally for the club to prove the victors turned out to be a forward ticking timer. The Earthquakes scored the first two goals then weathered an FC Dallas barrage to cling to a 2-1 lead and collect three points at Buck Shaw Stadium Saturday night.

“We survived the storm,” remarked defender Jordan Stewart.

Midfielder Cordell Cato connected on his first goal of the season for the Quakes (2-3-4) beating Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez in the 25th minute. The Quakes were also beneficiaries of an opponent own goal. San Jose played down a man for more than half the game after officials sent Shea Salinas off with a red card in the 45th minute.

“That was quite a night,” said San Jose coach Mark Watson. “To use the old cliché, it was a tale of two halves. I thought in the first half we played well, got the goal and had a chance to make it two-nil. The second half was just about sticking together defending and seeing the game out.”

After receiving a perfect header from Clarence Goodson, Cato found himself on breakaway staring down only Dallas keeper Fernandez. Cato struck a low shot to the left passed Fernandez for a 1-0 lead in the 25th minute. San Jose netminder Jon Busch was awarded the second assist on the marker, his first career helper, after firing a pass up-field to Goodson.

“I saw a big body up there, I thought it was Alan (Gordon),” said Busch. “I saw a big body and I just said I’m just going to hit it down the middle to one of the big bodies and something good will happen. And something good did happen.”

San Jose honored former player, coach and general manager Johnny Moore by inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame Saturday. It was a big night for the former wearer of number 8, but his present day counterpart nearly stole some of his thunder. On a Quakes free kick in the 73rd minute, Chris Wondolowski appeared to net the second goal of the game. The replay showed that, despite the perfect placement, Wondolowski’s left foot narrowly missed the ball. Instead, it was ruled a Dallas own goal off the boot of David Texeira for a Quakes 2-0 edge.

“To be honest, it was nice to get a bounce our way,” said Wondolowski of the own goal. “On Wednesday night (a 0-0 tie against Colorado at Buck Shaw) we didn’t get those bounces. We’ve been unlucky this season so it was nice to get a bounce.”

FC Dallas pressured San Jose throughout the night with forwards Fabian Castillo and Blas Perez combining on a number of Grade-A chances that Busch and company turned aside, including a chance in the 57th minute that crossed over the goal line but somehow managed to stay out.

“We do drills like that in training during the week,” said Busch. “You make the first save and get across the goal. I was fortunate enough that I got it quick enough and was able to make a play on the second shot that came off the post and came all the way across.”

Dallas finally broke through in the 76th minute after Michel beat Busch on a perfectly placed from just outside the penalty box. The Dallas midfielder tucked a perfect ball right into the top left corner for the sole visiting tally, his fifth of the season. Busch bounced back to hold the score and seal the win.

“I wish I could say I’m shocked,” said Wondolowski. “I see it every day. He does a great job. He’s a great goalie.”

Busch credited his teammates for playing strong in front of him.

“We needed this one badly,” said the keeper. “I can’t be prouder of the boys, they just battled through a lot of adversity. You take a red card just before halftime against a very good possession team, so you know you’re going to take wave after wave.”

With the Quakes already fighting an uphill battle, down a man with five other players booked for yellow cards, the deck appeared further stacked in Dallas’ favor when a generous six minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of play. The only major delay in the second half came when Alan Gordon went down in the 56th minute, but he quickly moved to the sideline along with the Earthquakes trainer before being subbed out in favor of J.J. Koval. Gordon told the media after the game that he doesn’t expect to miss any time and just suffered from dead legs Saturday night.

“I thought it was a long time,” said Watson. “The referee said the Alan Gordon injury was three minutes. There’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t change your mind, but I thought it was a little bit too much.”

Dallas took full advantage of the extra time, putting a salvo of shots on Busch to try to steal a point on the road. Despite a few close calls, the Quakes managed to pull out the victory for their second win this season, both coming at Buck Shaw Stadium.

“I think it shows the character this team has,” said Watson. “We’ve always had that. I thought tonight was a perfect example of that. Under extreme circumstances, all the things going on, we kept fighting and battling.”

The Quakes look to build off Saturday’s adversity laden win when they travel to Seattle to face the Sounders at the inhospitable CenturyLink Field next Saturday.

“Hopefully this gets us going,” said Busch. “We had a similar performance the other night, just couldn’t get the goal we needed. Tonight we got the two goals we needed. Hopefully we can take from this and move forward.”

The Quakes may soon be moving forward without the club’s all-time leading scorer. Chris Wondolowski may soon be joining the United States Men’s National Team for World Cup duty, including a May 27th tune-up at Candle Stick Park against Azerbaijan.

“We got a win, that was good.” Said Wondolowski. “If I am leaving, I wish I was leaving with us in first place. It is what it is. I know these guys are going to do a great job.”

Rapid’s Goal Keeper Irwin Heroic in 0-0 Draw

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

By: Joe Lami

SANTA CLARA, Calif–For the second straight match between the Colorado Rapids and the San Jose Earthquakes it ends scoreless, as the April 20th match also ended in a 0-0 draw.

Chances were seen from both squads with 31 total shots taken.  The Rapids outshot the home side 16-15.  However, the Quakes had the upper hand in shots on target 7-4, forcing Colorado Goal Keeper Clint Irwin to play an outstanding game.

The Quakes had a couple of outstanding chances, the first one coming in the tenth minute when a cross sent into the box by Midfielder, Atiba Harris found Striker, Chris Wondolowski.  However, Wondolowski misplayed the ball, which prevented him from scoring his team leading sixth goal of the campaign.

Another chance came for San Jose in the 23rd minute off of a corner kick set up by Shea Salinas.  Salinas decided to play the corner short.  He ended up with the ball of the left side of the box then striking it right at Rapid’s Keeper, Irwin.  Irwin was able to come up with the easy save.

Quakes’ Defender, Andreas Gorlitz, was substituted at the 45th minute with a right knee injury after a risky challenge by Colorado Midfielder, Charles Eloundou.  The challenege handed Eloundou the first yellow card of the game. “It doesn’t look good, it could be the end of the season type of thing,” explained Earthquakes Head Coach, Mark Watson.  Wondolowski added “it makes stomachs turn seeing injuries like that happen.  It doesn’t matter which team the player was on.”

The Quakes came out firing in the second half as well, with good chances coming from Alan Gordon and Wondolowski in the first 15 minutes of the half.  San Jose’s best chance of the game came off of the boot of Harris as he struck one towards net.  The ball was sure to find the back of the net until Irwin made a sprawling save to his right to keep the game even keel.

It wouldn’t be Earthquakes soccer if they hadn’t tried to get one late to win the game, and it almost came to fruition when a ball of the foot of Wondolowski found the right post and kicked right and away from the goal.

An impressive performance from the Quakes ends in disappointment once again, as they are unable to get on the board to earn a much needed 3-point game.  “We faced a great goal keeper tonight and of course it’s frustrating when you can’t get one by him, but we have to keep plugging away and can’t get ourselves down,” commented Wondolowski.  “I believe we did well, we created a lot more chances, and it was a good stepping stone,” added Harris.

The Earthquakes don’t have much time to rest as they are back to action at Buck Shaw Stadium this Saturday hosting FC Dallas.

Small Package Delivers Huge First Win of 2014 for Earthquakes

By Matthew Harrington

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The man who stands shortest on the Earthquakes squad elevated his game head and shoulders above his competition in San Jose’s first win of the 2014 season. Minute midfielder Yannick Djalo tallied his first MLS goal in a 1-0 triumph over visiting Chivas USA at Buck Shaw Stadium, providing a scoring spark in the 66th minute for the scuffling San Jose side after subbing in to open the second half. San Jose was booked for three yellow cards in a physical tilt, while the visitors were assessed two yellows and a red card, a booking on their goalkeeper for playing a ball outside of the penalty box.

The Quakes (1-2-3) opened play Saturday knotted with Montreal for the fewest points in the MLS standings, but Chivas proved just the opponent to help San Jose turn around its five-game winless streak in 2014. San Jose has not lost to Chivas in any of the encounters over the last two seasons.

The Rojiblancos (1-4-3) took their 2014 season opener 3-2 over visiting Chicago but failed to find the W in six consecutive games to sit just three points ahead of San Jose in the league table. With the win, the Earthquakes tied Chivas with six points earned on the campaign.

“You never want to wait too long for the first one,” said Earthquakes coach Mark Watson. “We’ve waited a little bit. It’s a relief. We still have work to do. It’s three points. We take it, we run with it and we get back to work on Monday.”

Djalo, an import on loan from Sport Lisbon e Benefica of Portugal’s Primeira Liga, received a Shea Salinas cross and tucked a bouncer just inside of the left post for a precision strike out of reach of diving Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy.

“It was a great team play,” said Djalo through an interpreter. “Salinas made a great pass over to me. I was happy to score the goal, but it was the high level of the team that got the goal. The ball made the goal. I just wanted to focus and put it into the corner.”

The winning volley marks the first career MLS goal for the five-foot-six veteran of 166 professional games, all abroad, in only his fourth game in the States.

“The teams are all competitive here,” said Djalo of the MLS. “That makes every game competitive. There’s a lot of hard work to be done. That makes me excited every game.”

For Djalo, the issue hasn’t been adjusting to the league as much as it has been overcoming injury, chiefly tightness in his right hamstring that has limited his availability in the early going. Watson utilized Djalo sparingly in his three previous MLS engagements, coming on in the 79th minute or later in two of three appearances. He entered the game at the half in March 13th’s loss to the Columbus Crew for his longest stint before tonight.

“Last week I wasn’t in the condition to play,” said Djalo. “I was a little sore still and couldn’t get through a game. Thanks to the work of the medical staff here, they did a great job with me all week. I was able to get on the field for 45 minutes. I hope that’s going to be a little bit more.”

“There was an argument to start him,” said Watson. “We felt with the way his hamstring has been the last couple of weeks, it wasn’t the prudent thing to do. He’s getting close. He’s a real dynamic player. He helps us when he’s on the pitch.”

For the second straight game, Quakes keeper Jon Busch collected the clean sheet, blanking the Rojiblancos one week after shutting out the Colorado Rapids in a scoreless draw on the road. Busch handled all three shots labelled for the San Jose net, while his defenders managed a pair of blocked shots and forced 10 Rojiblanco shots off target.

“We’ve got some tremendous defenders on this team,” said Busch. “It’s coming together very nicely defensively. I thought Victor (Bernardez) and Clarence (Goodson) did a beautiful job dealing with some very dangerous crosses. I was very happy with them in front of me. They were tremendous tonight.”

The Quake defense proved especially stout against Chivas striker Erick Torres. Torres took the pitch tied with Clint Dempsey for the MLS in goals atop the chase for the Golden Boot. Though Torres’ loaded foot had already found the back of the net six times previously this season, San Jose kept him off the sheet. Torres managed multiple chances on net by way of kick and header, but none found their mark thanks to his opposition’s containment.

“The defense played strong,” said Watson. “That’s one of the things we’ve been working on, being tougher to break down. Getting two shutouts in a row helps us confidence-wise. There are still little things we need to do.”

Proving defensively stout has been critical for the denizens of Buck Shaw Stadium as they slog through a scoring drought. San Jose owns only one game with more than one goal scored in their favor this season in six attempts. A handful of injuries to start the season have hampered San Jose’s offensive rhythm, especially at the midfield position, but the team appears close to being on the mend.

“We work every day on both sides of the ball,” said Watson. “I don’t think the team is where it needs to be. The group’s getting healthy, which helps. We get more time to work together as a group and we’ll continue to do that.”

Among the wounded rounding into form, Watson put heavy emphasis on what a hampered Djalo has brought, and what the expectations for him will be when he’s at full strength.

“Right from the start of the second half, he gave us that little spark,” said Watson. “The thing with him is, he’s got a good technical base. He can get out of pressure. He’s most dangerous when he can get space, when he runs. He made a great run to the far post and a great finish.

Despite a feeling around the team that the Portuguese player may be called upon to be San Jose’s next potent weapon, the smallish soccer star-in-waiting handles the weight with aplomb.

“Everyone feels the same pressure,” said Djalo. “You have to come into the game, do the best you can, contribute to the team and try to get wins. The pressure is the same for everybody. I play the game to help contribute to my teammates. They go through a lot of hard work every week, every game. I just want to help them succeed.”

Saturday’s score certainly made Djalo a popular man, both with the fans and his new teammates who now know what it feels like to have a mark under the win column in the league standings. The Earthquakes now carry a little less pressure heading into next week’s showdown in Vancouver against the Whitecaps no longer mired in last place in the Western Conference.

“We got the monkey off our back,” said Busch. “Hopefully we can relax and play our game.”