Earthquakes new head coach looks to change culture in 2023

Striker Cade Cowell looks to drive the ball during Quakes training camp on Thursday JAN 12, 2023. (San Jose Earthquakes)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE —To say 2022 was a tumultuous year for the San Jose Earthquakes was an understatement.

It was the first season post Chris Wondolowski, who had retired after the 2021 season, and then head coach Matias Almeyda tried everything he could to get himself relieved of his duties. Matias was gone after San Jose began the season winless in their first seven games.

Interim coach Alex Covelo did his best to calm the sinking ship, but the team still struggled as they finished with an 8-15-11 (35 points) and dead last in the Western Conference.

General Manager Chris Leitch hired former FC Dallas head coach and at the time assistant coach for the US Men’s National Team, Luchi Gonzalez on August 17, 2022. Gonzalez would take over the team once Team USA exited out of the 2022 World Cup that concluded last month.

This week training camp opened for the Quakes and it was the first chance the media was able to get a first look at his coaching style.

The roster, which returns Cristian Espinoza, Jeremy Ebobisse, Cade Cowell, and Nathan, were broken into groups and were participating in ball drills throughout the majority of practice and less conditioning drills. A complete 180 from last season and during Almeyda’s regime.

When asked what was the main thing that stood out about Gonzalez, Ebobisse said Luchi’s ability to communicate with the team.

“He’s really eager to communicate with his players. I think everyone has gotten time to speak to him directly, on the field or off the field. He (Gonzalez) wants to get to know us, wants to build a cohesive family environment, which he already has been, but want to take it to another level. I think if we continue to build trust in one another, integrate the new guys, that trust should show on the field in good moments and moments of adversity when we try to fight back,” Ebobisee said.

Up and coming forward Niko Tsakiris, who is looking to play more minutes in 2023 after a promising start last season, said he’s excited to have a clean slate and is looking forward to learning and benefitting from Gonzalez’s system.

“New change, new faces with the staff and the team. It’s been to kind of see a new way of play. We’re excited for the (upcoming) season for sure,” Tsakiris said.

One big challenge a new head coach faces is not just getting the players to believe in his system but to hold the players accountable from the start of the season to the end. Gonzalez, who run sprints with his coaching staff after practice concluded, said it’s up to him and his staff to set the example of accountability in order it to trickle down to his players.

“It starts with myself as the coach,” Gonzalez said. “We need to mirror our accountability. Like human beings, it’s the mirror effect. We want to show that every day we want to get better. We want to show that we respond to adversity. We want to show an intensity and a relentlessness in our training. If we model that as a staff, I think the players, I believe think they take that on and collectively move in the right direction.”

Espinoza, who was the catalyst for San Jose’s offense last season, expects the Quakes to figure out their identity during the preseason and likes what Gonzalez has brought to the table after only training under him for the past few days.

“He (Gonzalez) just has a different mindset,” said Espinoza through a translator. “He’s bringing in new ideas. For him to be a coach that has (recently) gone through a World Cup and has that under his belt now, just gives you these different qualities and mindsets. I think that’s going to be really special for us and something we can use to our advantage.

Gonzalez has six weeks to get his team ready for its first regular season match against Atlanta United on February 25th. Whatever the result, San Jose is in much better place than a year ago at this time with the stability that Gonzalez brings to a team that desperately needed a culture change.

Earthquakes comeback to draw 2-2 with Sounders in season finale

Jeremey Ebobissee celebrates his 17th goal of the season with his teammates at Lumen Field on Sunday OCT 9, 2022. (San Jose Earthquakes)

by Marko Ukalovic

It’s the end of an era, be it a short one.

The San Jose Earthquakes came back from a one goal deficit in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw with the Seattle Sounders in their season finale on Sunday afternoon at Lumen Field.

San Jose finished their turbulent 2022 season with an 8-15-11 record and 35 points to finish dead last in the Western Conference. Seattle had a subpar season finishing with a 12-17-5 record and 41 points to finish in 11th place and out of the playoffs.

This match marked the final one for interim head coach Alex Covelo, who took over for Matias Almeyda after he was dismissed following an 0-6 start. Covelo won his final home match last weekend, a 2-0 victory over Minnesota United.

The Quakes finished with an 8-11-8 record in MLS play under Covelo. Next season the ‘Quakes will be led by recently hired head coach Luchi Gonzalez, who is currently an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team that will be playing in the World Cup next month in Qatar.

“I talked about my emotions the other day. I didn’t talk about it in the past and I am not going to talk now. I think that these guys, this locker room, is very unique. They are very unified, and they are enjoying the way that we are playing. And at the same time, I cannot be more proud. We are working here everyday downstairs, every day with the players, from the medical part and also with Wondo [Chris Wondolowski], Lucho [Luciano Fusco], Steve [Ralston]. We have a lot of value, not only provisional but also as human beings, which is very important. But I am not going to talk more about emotions,” Covelo said.

Seattle drew first blood in the match’s opening minute. Alex Roldan crossed a ball into the middle over to Nicholas Lodeiro who one-timed a left footed shot past ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski for his sixth goal of the season.

San Jose answered back three minutes later. A shot from Cristian Espinoza was punched out to the middle by Souders goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. Jeremy Ebobisse cleaned up the rebound for his team leading 17th goal of the season.

It was also Ebobisse’s 44th of his MLS career. He set a new single-season career-high in goals and finished the season third in goals among all American players in MLS, only behind FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vazquez (18) and FC Dallas’ Jesus Ferreira (18).

Lodeiro gave the Sounders back their lead in the 49th minute when he recorded his brace. A corner kick was headed back to the D and Lodeiro one-timed the ball out of the air with a power shot into the left corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season, which was second best on the Sounders.

San Jose scored the equalizer in the 75th minute. Defender Miguel Trauco found Cade Cowell along the left sideline. Cowell dribbled down the middle before pin placing a right footed shot past Cleveland into the lower right corner of the net for his third goal of the season.

“It shows a lot of what we have been doing this year. This is a resilient team. I think we battled until the end, and there is a lot of character and a lot of passion in the locker room. The guys have been fantastic the whole year. This is a hard place to play, and although they are not in the MLS Playoffs, they’re a really, really, really good team. To play how we did, we suffered at times, but it was a positive end to the season and I’m proud of the guy’s work today,” ‘Quakes captain Jackson Yueill said.

Marinkowski finished the match with four saves on six shots on target in his final match of the season. Cleveland made two saves on four shots.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with one corner kicks. Seattle had four.

San Jose is now 12-15-9 all-time vs. Seattle Sounders FC, including a 6-10-3 record on the road.

Trauco made his first MLS start, playing 78 minutes. He also tallied an assist on Cade Cowell’s goal, marking his second assist of the season and of his MLS career. He has now tallied two assists in his last three matches.

Salinas goes out a hero in final home match of his career in Earthquakes 2-0 shutout win over Minnesota United

Shea Salinas being celebrated by his teammates after his final home match, a 2-0 win over Minnesota FC, at Pay Pal Park in San Jose on Saturday Oct 1, 2022. (San Jose Earthquakes)

by Marko Ukalovic

It was a swan sung to remember for Shea Salinas.

The San Jose Earthquakes veteran midfielder, who played in his final home match of his storied career, scored the game winning goal in a 2-0 shutout victory over the Minnesota United on Saturday evening in the home season finale at Pay Pal Park.

Salinas, who announced his retirement from the game this past Wednesday, was given the start in the midfield by interim head coach Alex Covelo in his final home match of his career.

He made the most of his 63 minutes on the pitch with the goal on two shots. The Man of the Match received a standing ovation from the ‘Quakes faithful on hand that witnessed the final time he donned the home jersey. Covelo substituted in forward Benji Kikanovic in the 64th minute.

Salinas’ goal came in the 52nd minute off a free kick just inside the D. His shot deflected off the leg off Emmanuel Reynoso and past United goalkeeper David St. Clair for his first goal of the season. It was the 22nd goal of his 15-year career in his 375th MLS appearance.

Salinas set up his own goal two minutes earlier when he intercepted a pass at midfield and raced down the middle of the pitch only to be tripped up by Michael Boxall before making a shot attempt on net.

“Tonight was special, (it fees) still kind of surreal, the whole thing,” Salinas said after the match. “It doesn’t feel like the last game (at home). I felt good out there but (I’m) also excited for the future. I thought it was a good way to end it, it was fun.”

San Jose won just their eight match of the season with one left go before they wrap it up for 2022. It was big blow to Minnesota’s playoff hopes as they weren’t able to gain any ground as they stood stuck with 45 points, one point ahead of Real Salt Lake for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are 0-5-1 in their last six matches.

“For me, to coach Shea (Salinas) is a pleasure. I’ve known him since I came here in 2017. He always has been a role model on and off the field. I was on the bench in 2017 when Shea scored the second goal and gave us the victory that day at Stanford. It has been a pleasure,” Covelo said.

Kikanovic gave San Jose (8-15-10) an insurance goal in the 71st minute. Jeremy Ebobisee chipped a ball over Kikanovic out to the middle and he dribbled out the right wing before depositing the ball into the lower left corner for his sixth goal of the season.

Minnesota United (13-14-6) came out flat with hardly any desperation setting up a winner take all scenario heading into Decision Day next Sunday against Vancouver in a race that has five teams separated by only four points.

The best scoring chance for the visiting team came in the 48th minute when a shot from the left wing by Reynoso was knocked away by ‘Quakes goalkeeper JTMarcinkowski and out of danger.

Marcinkowsi finished the match stopping the two shots on target to earn his fourth clean sheet of the season. St. Clair made four saves on six shots on target in the losing effort.

In the end it was a scripted ending perfect for Salinas that everyone had hoped for but no one expected.

Salinas said to closed out by saying “It was pretty funny. They were huddled up, talking about some plan, and I was jokingly over their shoulder like, ‘Hey guys, I’m just going to shoot it,’ and I walked away. But they were like, ‘No, seriously, that’s fine. Shoot it.’ I haven’t taken a direct free kick my entire career.  I think God had this all planned out and I got to celebrate.”

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with seven corner kicks. Minnesota had six.

San Jose is now 5-4-2 all-time vs. Minnesota United FC, including a 3-2-1 record at PayPal Park.

The Earthquakes are now 8-11-7 in MLS play under Covelo.

Minnesota United had it seven match unbeaten streak snapped as they were 5-0-2 previously against San Jose

San Jose has scored 29 goals in the second half this season.

Salinas still holds the club record with 50 assists.

UP NEXT: San Jose closes out the regular season against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday 10/9 at 2:00pm at Lumen Field.

Chicharito’s brace powers Galaxy in 3-2 win over Earthquakes in California Classico

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.

Earthquakes battle FC Dallas to 1-1 draw

San Jose Earthquakes forward Jeremy Ebobisee celebrates his goal with Judson at Pay Pal Park on Saturday SEP 17, 2022. (San Jose Earthquakes)

by Marko Ukalovic

In a match where things were chippy late in the match, the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas played to a 1-1 draw on Saturday evening at Pay Pal Park.

San Jose snapped its two match losing streak and are winless in three consecutives matches. FC Dallas has points in its last four matches.

FC Dallas (13-8-11-50 points) drew first blood in the 16th minute. Paul Arriola centered a ball into the middle of the box. Jader Obrian’s one timer deflected off of Tanner Beason and past ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski for his second goal of the season.

San Jose (7-14-10-31 points) received a break in the 23rd minute when a shot inside the box pinballed of the hand of Marco Farfan for a penalty and a yellow card for Farfan.

Jeremy Ebobisse converted the penalty kick a minute later when he made a quick hesitation before beating FC Dallas goalkeeper Maarten Paes with a left footed shot for his team leading 16th goal of the season.

Ebobisee’s 16 goals are tied for the third-most in a single season in club history and most among all players other than Chris Wondolowski. His goal also marked his second goal of the season and of his MLS career via penalty.

Interim head coach tinkered with his lineup as Jackson Yueill was out with a knee injury and Cristian Espinoza came off the bench as a substitute for the first time this season. Benji Kikanovic and Judson started in place respectively.

“I think we looked good. The guys stepped up. I think everybody can have a chance to play and show the level that they have. We played against a good team. They made rotations and we had some players missing like Eric Remedi and rotated Cristian Espinoza. Dallas is still one of the best teams that plays good soccer here in the league, and I think we were good tonight. The team is defending every day a little bit better after the game against FC Cincinnati. We had very good moments with the ball and what we missed was to create a little bit more and arrive in the box. But I think that the guys that stepped up today did very well,” Covelo said.

San Jose received an advantage in the 82nd minute when Arriola retaliated with an attempted punch on a Quakes player. A VAR review confirmed the foul and Arriola was given a red card and an automatic ejection.

The ‘Quakes weren’t able to cash in the opportunity with FC Dallas down a man for the final 13 minutes of the match including the five extra minutes in stoppage time.

“I think the group put themselves in good spots. I thought there were some good moments where we exploited spaces, on counterattacks working from the width into the middle and then trying to get to the other side of the field. Ultimately our final decisions let us down a little bit, prevented some more clear-cut chances,” Ebobisse said.

Both Marcinkowski and Paes made one save during the match.

GAME NOTES: Each team finished the match with five corner kicks.

San Jose is now 29-21-20 all-time vs. FC Dallas, including a 17-8-11 home record.

The Earthquakes are now 7-10-7 in MLS play under interim head coach Alex Covelo.

The Quakes extended their home unbeaten streak to three matches (2-0-1).

UP NEXT: San Jose host the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2022 installment of the California Classico on Saturday 9/24 at 7:00pm at Stanford Stadium.

Earthquakes officially eliminated from playoff contention in 2-1 loss to Rapids

Colorado Rapids striker Diego Rubio celebrates his first half goal with his teammates at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday Sep 14, 2022. (Colorado Rapids)

by Marko Ukalovic

The inevitable finally became a formality.

The Colorado Rapids mathematically eliminated the San Jose Earthquakes from playoff contention in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

San Jose has lost two matches in a row with four left to play in the regular season. Colorado is 2-3-2 in its past seven matches as they fight for their playoff lives sitting four points out of seventh place in the Western Conference.

San Jose (7-14-9-30 points) had a complete 180 degree performance from this past Saturday where they were whipped 6-0 by FC Cincinnati. The ‘Quakes outplayed the Rapids for much of the match as they controlled possession and generated quality scoring chances.

“Difficult,” said ‘Quakes interim head coach Alex Covelo on losing such a tough match. “It’s very difficult when you play like that, when you create chances to win against Colorado here. After the defeat at Cincinnati, playing how we played tonight, it is very difficult. They scored that second goal, and if they shoot one million shots again maybe they’ll score again. But it is difficult.”

Colorado (10-12-12-42 points) drew first blood in the 21st minute. A cross attempt by Jonathan Lewis deflected off the back of Paul Marie over to Diego Rubio. The Chilean striker blasted a right footed one-timer through the hands of ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski for his team leading 14th goal of the season.

The Earthquakes countered off of a set piece in the 37th minute. Cristian Espinoza sent in a corner kick to near the post where an unmarked Nathan raced in and headed the ball past Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough for his second goal of the season. Nathan has four goals in a ‘Quakes uniform.

They corner kick was set up with a nice run from Cade Cowell who dished the ball off to Jamiro Monteiro who fired a shot from just above the D only to have Yarbrough make a diving safe knocking it the ball out.

In the second half, San Jose had a chance to garner its first lead of the match in the 69th minute when Espinoza centered a ball over to Cowell inside the box. However, Cowell’s shot hit off the crossbar as Colorado cleared the ball away.

The Rapids regained the lead in the 77th minute off a counter attack. Max set up Keegan Rosenberry along the right wing. The ‘Quakes defense sat back while Rosenberry dribbled in a rifled a shot from 25 yards out into the upper right corner for his second goal of the season.

Despite being eliminated, Covelo believes his team still has something to play for in their final four matches.

“Today I feel very proud of them, I feel we deserved to win, and it hurts. The guys know, but right now what we need to do is keep playing and finish as high as possible in the standings. That’s the main objective right now. I do not know if it’s because I come from a country where there is regulation, so I do not want to see the team in a position like that. We need to keep fighting to finish well,” Covelo said.

Yarbrough finished the night with two saves on three shots on target to earn the victory. Marcinkowski made just one save on three shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with six corner kicks. Colorado had eight.

San Jose is now 31-25-18 all-time vs. the Colorado Rapids, including a 13-16-9 record on the road. Colorado is undefeated at home against San Jose since 2014 with a record of 6-0-5.

Espinoza’s assist on Nathan’s goal marked his 18th of the season and 43rd overall for San Jose. He is now one assist away from tying Eddie Lewis for the most assists in a single season in club history. Espinoza is also now one assist away from tying Richard Mulrooney for the second most assists in club history.

Colorado is 7-3-3 when scoring first this season.

UP NEXT: San Jose returns home for a three-match homestand when they host FC Dallas on Saturday 9/17 at 7:30pm at Pay Pal Stadium.

Brenner’s hat trick power past Earthquakes in 6-0 shutout win

FC Cincinnati striker Brenner celebrates scoring a hat trick during the match at TQL Stadium on Saturday Sep 10, 2022. (MLS)

by Marko Ukalovic

It was a night to forget along the Ohio River.

Brenner recorded his second career hat trick as FC Cincinnati thrashed the San Jose Earthquakes in a 6-0 shutout win on Saturday evening at TQL Stadium.

With the win, FC Cincinnati is on a season best nine-match unbeaten streak. San Jose has lost two out of its past three matches.

San Jose (7-13-9-30 points) played a descent first half generating scoring chances. At one point from the 37th minute to the 38th minute, the Earthquakes had shots from Cade Cowell, Jamiro Monteiro and Jackson Yueill only to be knocked away by FC Cincinnati goalkeeper Roman Celentano to keep San Jose off the board.

FC Cincinnati (10-8-12-42 points) took advantage of the momentum shift as Luciano Acosta found Alvaro Berreal along the left wing and the fullback’s left footed shot deflected off Nathan into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season right before the halftime whistle blew.

It didn’t take long for FC Cinciannti to double its lead in the second half. Off of a free kick, Brandon Vázquez headed a ball into the middle where Brenner scored from close range for his first goal of the night at the 47th minute.

“It’s something that we need to control a little bit more because it’s a transition every time you lose a ball in the zone too. The plan was to rotate [FC Cincinnati] a little bit, attract them and find the opposite side to attack them because they had a lot of density in the middle,” ‘Quakes interim head coach Alex Covelo said.

Acosta drew a foul inside the box from ‘Quakes fullback Rodrigues in the 66th minute for a penalty kick. Five minutes later, after a VAR review, Acosta cashed in the penalty for his eighth goal of the season.

A counter attack by FC Cincinnati led to Brenner with a nice set up for Yuya Kubo, who beat ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski with a low shot to the right corner of the net for his first goal of the season in the 77th minute.

“I think [the locker room] feels the same when you lose by that big of a margin,” said Shea Salinas about the team’s morale after a brutal loss. “Everyone feels defeated and frustrated. It’s a moment of reflection when guys can look and see where they made mistakes, not just mistakes, everyone makes mistakes, but when we’re not playing as a team, when we’re not fighting for each other. When we conceded early in the second half, we lost it a bit and then in the third goal everything fell apart.”

Brenner finished off the scoring for FC Cincinnati with the final two goals of the match. A bad turnover right at the D by San Jose gave the Brazilian striker his second goal of the match in the 90th minute.

Brenner put the cherry on top with a penalty kick in the 4th minute of stoppage time, after a foul by Nathan inside the box, to complete the hat trick and his 12th goal of the season.

Acosta earned the man of the match with one goal two assists. The two assists gave Acosta 18 for the season, which leads the MLS.

Celentano stopped all five shots on target to earn the clean sheet. Marcinkowski made four saves on 10 shots in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with three corner kicks. FC Cincinnati had four.

San Jose is now 1-1-0 all-time vs. FC Cincinnati, including a 0-1-0 record on the road.

The Earthquakes are now 7-9-6 in MLS play under Covelo.

UP NEXT: San Jose concludes its two match road trip when they take on the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday 9/14 at 7:00pm at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Earthquakes dominate in 2-0 shutout win over Whitecaps

Newly acquired San Jose Earthquakes fullback Rodrigues awaits a corner kick from the Vancouver Whitecaps at Pay Pal Park on Sunday Sep 4, 2022. (Dario Cruz-Tectonic Takes)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE — Jeremy Ebobisse stayed as hot on the field as the temperature was at kickoff

The San Jose Earthquakes scored twice in the first half en route to a 2-0 shutout victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on a blistering hot Sunday evening at Pay Pal Park.

San Jose has won two of its past three matches. Vancouver has lost two matches in a row.

‘Quakes head coach Alex Covelo inserted recently acquired fullback Rodrigues into the starting lineup as the Brazilian defender made his Earthquakes debut since being acquired on loan from Brazilian club Grêmio back on August 6th. Rodrigues filled up one of the open international spots San Jose had.

Rodrigues’ debut got off to a shaky start with a couple of turnovers inside the ‘Quakes zone in the first 15 minutes of the match. As the match prolonged, Rodrigues settled down and played well in the second half with tackles that helped contain counter attacks from Vancouver.

“He is a physical and powerful player that could also help us out with aerial balls. With the ball, he was very comfortable today. He had a very good game defensively and offensively. Obviously physically he is not in the best of conditions but will improve step by step,” Covelo said.

Ebobisse helped San Jose (7-12-9-30 points) draw first blood early in the match. Cade Cowell, who started the match at left wing, split two defenders before centering the ball into the middle. Captain Jackson Yueill made a one-touch back pass over to Ebobisse who buried a left footed shot into the upper left corner of the net for his team leading 15th goal of the season in the fourth minute.

I tried flicking it if he (Ebobisse) was a little bit in front of me,” said Yueill on the team’s first goal. “Luckily it went right to him and he (Ebobisse) had a phenomenal finish, so all the credit goes to him because it’s a tough goal, and to Cade (Cowell) as well because of his speed and the correct path he chose to do. Great team goal and credit to Jebo (Ebobisse).”

The ‘Quakes had the Whitecaps (9-13-7-34 points) on their heels for the majority of the first half with quality chances.

Covelo said, “We knew that Vancouver was going to present this 3-4-3 with those wingbacks divided a little bit more and leave the three center backs a little bit behind. We knew that as soon as we could rotate the ball and create some pressure, we had to go for the one vs. one, whether with Cristian [Espinoza], Jebo [Jeremy Ebobisse], Cade [Cowell], or Jamiro [Monteiro] charging and find the ball to the wings. They read it very well and I think I was sitting on the bench for the majority of the first half.”

San Jose doubled its lead in the 34th minute. Cristian Espinoza came in from the right wing and centered a ball over to Jamiro Monteiro inside the box. Monteiro beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal with a low right footed shot the right corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

Espinoza tallied his 12th assist of the season. He is now two assists away from tying Eddie Lewis for the most assists in a single season in club history. Espinoza is also now two assists away from tying Richard Mulrooney for the second most assists in club history.

Vancouver played more aggressively in the second half generating scoring chances near the net. However, the ‘Quakes defense and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski kept Vancouver off the scoreboard when the Whitecaps had shots on target.

Marcinkowski finished with six saves to earn his third clean sheet of the season. Hasal made three saves on five shot on target in the losing effort.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with three corner kicks. Vancouver had nine.

San Jose is now 9-10-12 all-time vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, including an 6-1-8 record at home.

The Earthquakes are now 7-8-6 in MLS play under interim head coach Alex Covelo

Vancouver had its unbeaten streak of five matches (2W, 3D) against San Jose snapped.

Vancouver has only won once in San Jose in 15 trips to Silicon Valley. Their last victory at Pay Pal Park was in August 2018, 3-2 win.

UP NEXT: San Jose begins a two-match road trip when they visit FC Cincinnati on Saturday 9/10 at 4:30pm at TQL Stadium.

Earthquakes stun LAFC with dramatic upset in 2-1 win

San Jose forward Carlos Espinoza battles for possession along the sideline with LAFC’s Diego Palacios at Pay Pal Park on Saturday Aug 20, 2022. (Dario Cruz-Tectonic Takes)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE — The MLS version battle of David versus Goliath went David’s way in a shocker.

Cade Cowell scored the game winning goal in the 77th minute as the San Jose Earthquakes pulled off a dramatic upset over LAFC, the best team in the league, 2-1 on Saturday evening at Pay Pal Park.

In front of a sold out crowd, in what had a playoff atmosphere like feeling, the ‘Quakes won for just the second time in its last eight matches. On the flip side, LAFC had its seven match winning streak snapped.

“Emotions are high right now. We need to be calm, but I believe tonight is one of the best games I have seen from this team this season. When you lose, you ‘stink’ and when you win, everybody wants to talk good things about you. The guys showed that we have personality and played good with and without the ball. And we did it,” interim head coach Alex Covelo said.

Cowell was set up by the Man of Match, Tommy Thompson, who had two assists on the night. Thompson ran down a ball near the end line when he centered the ball back into the middle where an unmarked Cowell blasted a one-timer top shelf past LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau for his second goal of the season.

“For me personally, it felt great to put in a good shift with the team, but I give a lot of credit to all the guys out there that fought until the end right in the middle of the difficult moment that we’re in. I think it’s exciting and it’s a night that I won’t forget anytime soon,” Thompson said.

San Jose (6-11-9-27 points) drew first blood in the 14th minute. Benji Kikanovic began a counter attack for the ‘Quakes. Christian Espinoza found Thompson along the end line and he chipped the ball over a LAFC defender to Kikanovic who buried a one-timer into the upper left corner for his fifth goal of the season.

LAFC (18-5-3-57 points) had trouble containing San Jose’s attack in the first half as they were playing back on the heels for the first 45 minutes.

The start of the second half saw LAFC change the momentum with chances early on. They cashed in the 54th minute on a brilliant play from Kellyn Acosta. The current USNMT’s midfielder glided a pass over to Kwadwo Opoku, who got behind Nathan on the play, and he chipped the ball over ‘Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski for his seventh goal of the season.

Covelo made substitutions in the 69th minute as he brought Cowell and Eric Remedi that helped switch the momentum back to San Jose.

Despite bringing in a powerhouse trio off the bench in the second half that consisted of 2019 MLS MVP Carlos Vela, Illie Sanchez and Jose Cifuentes, LAFC was not only able to score the equalizer but lost their composure in the process as their frustrations of being outplayed grew bigger down the stretch with ugly fouls that went for yellow cards.

Sanchez received two yellow cards in just 15 minutes of action when he was sent off for his second infraction and automatic red card in the 79th minute. Sanchez will be suspended for LAFC’s next match against the Austin FC on 8/26.

Marcinkowski finished the match with one save on two shots on goal. Crépeau made three saves on five shots in the losing effort.

Welsh international midfielder Gareth Bale made an appearance as a substitute in the 76th minute when he replaced Opoku. He has played in eight games with LAFC since being transferred from Real Madrid back in June.

GAME NOTES: San Jose finished the match with 11 corner kicks. LAFC had five.

San Jose is now 5-7-0 all-time vs. Los Angeles Football Club, including a 4-2-0 record at home. San Jose is now 5-2-0 in their last seven meetings with LAFC, including three straight home wins.

The Earthquakes are now 6-7-6 in MLS play under Covelo.

UP NEXT: San Jose travels out to the Midwest to take on Sporting KC on Saturday 8/27 at 5:30pm at Children’s Mercy Park.

Earthquakes introduce Luchi Gonzales as new head coach of the team

Luchi Gonzales posed with a jersey at his introductory press conference as the new head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes at the Signia Hotel on Wednesday Aug 17, 2022. (Sports Radio Service)

by Marko Ukalovic

SAN JOSE — The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that the club has hired Luchi Gonzalez as head coach. Gonzalez, currently an assistant coach with the United States Men’s National Team, will take over at the conclusion of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The interim coaching staff, led by Alex Covelo, will remain in their current roles through the end of the 2022 season.

The club introduced their new head coach, slated to take over duties in 2023, at the rebranded Signia Hotel (formerly The Fairmont) in downtown San Jose on Thursday afternoon in front of media, fans and team personnel during a press conference that was emceed by play-by-play announcer Ted Ramey.

“Luchi has all of the attributes that we sought in our next head coach,” said Earthquakes General Manager Chris Leitch. “He has had success coaching in Major League Soccer with playoff appearances in his first two seasons and has a very strong track record in youth development. His strengths and desires align with our short and long-term goals as a club, and we look forward to him taking the reins after the World Cup.”

Gonzalez, 42, has served as an assistant coach for the U.S. National Team since December 2021. With Gonzalez on staff, the USMNT played their final six qualification matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and secured their place in the competition for the first time since 2014.

Gonzalez stated he wants to win right away and doesn’t believe the team needs to do a full on rebuild.

“I think there is a lot of potential. I think it’s a high potential group and club. The academy is growing. You got young players doing well. You have people that would die for this jersey on this roster,” Gonzalez said.

Luchi, along with management, have a win now state of mind and emphasized that point during the presser.

“The ambition is to win, is to make the playoffs next year. Plain and simple. We must make the playoffs next year. That’s going to be our mentality, our objective. The process is the most important for me. That’s where the work has gotta be done. Everybody has to believe. Fans, team staff, me, leadership, we all gotta believe to make next year’s maybe at end of the year moment count. But it’s gotta start with believing in the next step, which the process,” Gonzales stated.

Gonzalez previously MLS coaching experience was back in 2019 as the head coach of FC Dallas. He led the club to back-to-back MLS Cup Playoff appearances in 2019 and 2020. Over those two seasons, FC Dallas lost just one of 27 home matches (17-1-9) and ranked top-seven defensively both years. He departed the club in September 2021.

Gonzaled said, “Everything I learned from my former experiences in Dallas, have led me to be in this moment to grab the opportunity for San Jose.”

San Jose has nine matches remaining on a dismal season that has them anchoring the bottom of the Western Conference standings. The Earthquakes host Socal rival LAFC on Saturday at 7:00pm at Pay Pal Park.