Earthquakes flounder against Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls (3-0-2) continued their unbeaten run to start the season, knocking off the visiting San Jose Earthquakes (3-4-0) 2-0 Friday evening at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

New York midfielder Sacha Kljestan opened scoring in the 29th minute on an opportunistic tap in that resulted after a horror show sequence from the San Jose defense. Quakes left-back Cordell Cato carelessly gave away possession deep in his own half, leading to a Felipe cross that nicked the outstretched leg of New York attacker Bradley Wright Phillips. Poor marking by Victor Bernardez and Clarence Goodson led to an unmarked Kljestan in position for his first goal of the season. Phillips was credited with his third assist of 2015, tied for the MLS lead.

With Jordan Stewart nearly healthy, there were question marks going in regarding Cato’s long term potential at the left-back spot, after a man of the match performance last weekend against Vancouver. The gaffe will not help the Trinidadian’s case.

New York doubled their tally just six minutes later, when Mike Grella knocked in a left footed volley across David Bingham’s goal, after an excellent cross by Lloyd Sam. A defensive lapse again hurt San Jose, with Sanna Nyassi failing to track Grella’s far post run. The goal is Sam’s third in five matches this season.

Bingham saved the Earthquakes from going down three in the 51st minute, tapping a Dax McCarthy header over the bar.

The Red Bulls doubled the Earthquakes chances finishing with eight shots on target to the visitors four.

The hosts controlled 57 percent of possession, employing a high press that made it difficult for San Jose to connect passes with any consistency. The center-back partnership of Matt Miazga and Damien Perrinelle were excellent for New York, leaving the Earthquakes without a clear cut chance until the game’s final moments.

For the second time this season the Quakes had a handball shout that went uncalled when Shea Salinas’ attempted cross struck the hand of Perrinelle, who was already on a yellow card, though the act seemed unintentional with the defender just feet in front of Salinas.

San Jose’s best chance to snatch a goal came in the 83rd minute, when Innocent had his first chance saved by Luis Robles and whacked the ensuing rebound wide. A wide open Chris Wondolowski stood screaming at the Swiss international who elected not to square the ball for what looked to be an easy finish.

Wondolowski started the game on the bench and came on as an early second half sub after a busy week in which he flew to San Antonio for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s clash with Mexico. The club confirmed the striker is healthy.

The Earthquakes are off until May 1 when they head to Utah to face an Real Salt Lake team that beat them 1-0 on April 1 at Avaya Stadium.