USA Today photo: San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Magnus Eriksson (7) controls the ball between FC Cincinnati defender Mathieu Deplagne (17) and midfielder Frankie Amaya (24) during the first half at Avaya Stadium.
By London Marq
The San Jose Earthquakes have come a long way in their previous five games. After starting the season 0-4 and looking completely disconnected, they seemed to be well on their way to a bottom of the table finish. Since then, San Jose has found some swagger and momentum. With a 2-1-2 record over the past five matches, they have managed to climb back into playoff contention.
Give credit to the head coach Matias Almeyda, who in his first year with the Quakes has managed his team through adversity, despite mounting pressure. After two matches on the road, the Quakes returned to Avaya Stadium to host a struggling FC Cincinnati squad. Cincinnati entered play coming off of four straight shutout losses. Momentum seemed to be in San Jose’s favor. And that was where it would stay.
From the opening kickoff, San Jose was in control. Playing a more confident, aggressive style than earlier this season, the Quakes were able to dominate the ball. Being physical can come with a price, however, as San Jose found themselves with two yellow cards in the first 15 minutes.
One applied to Shea Salinas, the other to Cristian Espinoza. Jackson Yueill played an aggressive game in the offensive third. While none of his shots were on target, they were right around the posts causing the FC Cincinnati keeper Tyton fits. Hometown hero, Nick Lima, found pay dirt in the 22nd minute with a low strike to the far post from outside box.
San Jose would remain in control for the remainder of the half, taking their one-goal lead into the locker room. The tempo of the game wouldn’t change until the 51st minute when Cristian Espinoza made a critical mistake, pulling Cincinnati defender Deplagne down from behind as he moved towards the goal.
Espinoza would draw his second yellow with the foul and exited the match, leaving San Jose down a man for the remaining 39 minutes. With this, Cincinnati was able to capitalize and put some pressure on the San Jose goal. Quakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega, who appeared completely inept early in the season, made an absolutely sensational save to keep Cincinnati off the board. San Jose was able to endure the loss of Espinoza and ride the momentum to a one-goal win. With the win, they’ve move into seventh in the Western Conference and hold a potential playoff spot, for now.