San Jose’s Niko Tsakiris attempted a counter attack during the California Classico at Stanford Stadium on Saturday Sep 24, 2022. (San Jose Earthquakes)
by Marko Ukalovic
PALO ALTO–Chicharito ended up getting the last laugh in the Bay Area.
The Mexican striker recorded a brace as the Los Angeles Galaxy defeated the San Jose Earthquakes 3-2 in this season’s installment of the California Classico on Saturday evening at Stanford Stadium.
San Jose has three of its past four matches with two left to go in the regular season. Los Angeles has won two matches in a row and has points in five of its past six matches.
Before the match, a big banner ran along the end zone that depicted two clowns in an attempt to poke fun at the Galaxy.
17-year old ‘Quakes homegrown player Nico Tsakiris made his first start of the season at midfielder for interim head coach Alex Covelo. Tsakiris replaced Jamiro Monteiro who was out on international duty. Defender Miguel Trauco made his ‘Quakes debut in the 59th minute when he subbed in for Tanner Beason.
“Fantastic, that’s why he played,” said Covelo when asked to evaluate the play of Tsakiris. “He is a player that is going to be the future of San Jose, MLS, and maybe Europe. That’s why we put him in. We didn’t put him in because I just woke up this morning and said let’s put in Niko. I think it was a good opportunity for him and he deserves it. He did well.”
Los Angeles (13-12-7-46 points) drew first blood in the 12th minute. Julián Araujo sent in a cross into the middle of the box where Chicharito deked out Rodrigues and then beat ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski with a left footed shot for his team leading 16th goal of the season.
The Galaxy doubled its lead in the 42nd minute. A turnover by San Jose led to Gastón Brugman blasting a shot from the edge of the 18 that hit the bounced underneath the crossbar and into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
Los Angeles scored its third unanswered goal with Chicharito’s second goal of the game in the 69th minute. Efraín Álvarez threaded a ball through the two defenders that allowed Chicharito to sneak behind the defense and seal the deal with his 17th goal of the season.
San Jose (7-15-10-31 points) attempted a comeback three minutes later when Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond tripped up Cristian Espinoza inside the box for a penalty kick. Espinoza was on a mini breakaway after receiving a brilliant pass from Tsakiris. Bond had no other option but to take down Espinoza.
“As a No. 10, and it being my first start, you want to try and create as much as you can but also keep it simple. The opportunity came and it just felt right. We ended up improving and scoring from it, which was helpful for the group and our momentum. The opportunity was there so I took it,” Tsakiris said.
Espinoza cashed in the penalty in the 74th minute with a shot to the lower right corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season.
The Earthquakes scored on the final play of the game off of a set piece to make the score look respectable in the fifth minute of stoppage time. Espinoza sent a corner kick out the edge of D when Trauco kicked it into the middle of the box where Nathan one-touched the ball off of a defender’s foot for his third goal of the season and fifth in a ‘Quakes uniform.
“The atmosphere was spectacular. The team pushing hard in the second half was also due to the atmosphere, and the fans who came out to support and push the team to win until the end,” said Covelo.
Bond finished the match with one save on three shots on target to earn the win. Marcinkowski made one save on four shots on target in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished the match with four corner kicks. Los Angeles had six.
The attendance for the match was 44,200, sixth most of any MLS match during the 2022 season.
San Jose is now 28-35-16 all-time vs. LA Galaxy, including a 5-2-2 record at Stanford Stadium.
The Earthquakes are now 7-11-7 in MLS play under Covelo.
UP NEXT: San Jose plays its final home match of the season on Saturday 10/1 when they host Minnesota United at 7:00pm at Pay Pal Park.