SANTA CLARA — Despite another slow start, Saturday turned out to be night of firsts for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
The Quakes secured their first victory of the season, beating struggling Chivas USA 1-0 in front of a sold out crowd at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Recently-acquired Portuguese loanee Yannick Djalo provided the second half fireworks, with the super sub scoring on a sublime volley in the 66th minute, his first goal for the club.
Shea Salinas beat his defender down the left flank, sending a cross into the box just before reaching the touchline. Djalo found space in the right side of the box, and hit a low first-time volley across Dan Kennedy’s goal into the corner of the far post.
Coach Mark Watson discussed the difficulty of Djalo’s world-class finish:
“Fantastic finish. It’s a big looping ball so you’re timing it and looking at the position of the keeper. You’ve got a couple feet to aim at at the far post. He struck it beautifully and snuck it inside the post. It’s a tough skill. It may look easy but it’s certainly not.”
The winger came of the bench once again, this time starting the second half, and made an immediate impact to a Quakes side that looked as listless in the first half as they did last week in Colorado.
Through a translator, Djalo deflected most of the plaudits, instead crediting a great ball by Salinas:
“It was a great team play. Shea made a great pass to get it over to me…..The ball made the goal. It was a great ball, I was wide open so I just wanted to focus and make sure I put it right in the corner.”
Djalo was listed as questionable before the match due to a nagging hamstring, but with San Jose still winless entering Saturday’s fixture, another poor first half necessitated the newcomers inclusion.
Watson agreed Djalo once again changed the dynamic:
“You know right from the start of the second half he gave us that extra little spark, whether it was running at defenders or supporting the play with his runs. The thing with him is he’s got a good technical base so he can get out of pressure but he’s most dangerous when he can get his legs going and really run.”
“He gives our team confidence when he’s on the field, I think he wants to earn the respect of the players as well and I think he’ll feel pretty good about scoring and giving us the game winner.”
San Jose struggled early in the midfield particularly, where possession and link up play were nowhere to be found. The ineptitude was partially due to aggressiveness from Chivas, but San Jose lacked accuracy even when allowed time on the ball.
Despite playing at home against a Chivas USA side that has allowed the most goals in the Western Conference, the Quakes scrambled to clear their lines defensively throughout the first 45 minutes.
Two desperation challenges from center-back pairing Clarence Goodson and Victor Bernardez were needed to thwart two probable scoring opportunities from the goats.
Once they settled, the two at the back were terrific again for San Jose, giving the Quakes their second clean sheet in as many games.
San Jose found themselves especially fortunate in the 33rd minute, when goal machine Erick Torres missed a sitter from six yards out. The Mexican, who has six goals in 7 games, defied expectation by missing the target completely outside Jon Busch’s far post.
Like last week in Colorado, both sides found it difficult to hit the target, with only three shots sniffing the goal mouth between both clubs, and San Jose challenging only once.
When Djalo entered as a half time substitution, he was once again tasked with breathing life into the stuttering attack.
Salinas, who is tied for the MLS lead with four assists through six games, talked about Djalo’s quality:
“Yannick’s a great player. He changes the game completely when he comes in. His speed is amazing, his first touch is great. I’m looking forward for him to get a lot more minutes and it was a great goal from him tonight.”
It looked like lightning struck twice just a minute later, when Wondolowski appeared to score off a San Jose counter attack only to be ruled offside.
Things only got worse for the goats in the 77th, when goalkeeper Kennedy was sent off after misjudging and subsequently handling a loose ball just outside the penalty box. The handball restricted Alan Gordon from a clear goal scoring opportunity, leading to a straight red.
Gordon nearly put the game to bed in the 83rd, but was thwarted by a fine diving save from replacement keeper Kristopher Tyrpak, after a right footed rocket from the big forward.