The San Jose Earthquakes held their own but were ultimately no match for English giants Manchester United Tuesday evening, losing 3-1 to the visitors in a thrilling International Champions Cup friendly.
United scored two goals in quick succession early in the first half, with Juan Mata finishing a brilliant chip in the 32nd minute, and Memphis Depay scoring an easy second off a bad San Jose pass in the 37th minute.
San Jose notched one back in the 43rd minute on a first-time hit by Fatai Alashe, but Man U ultimately put the game to bed on a routine goal by Andreas Pereira in the 61st minute.
Despite the result, head coach Dom Kinnear was much more content with this performance than he was after Friday’s 5-2 demolition at Los Angeles Galaxy:
“We had a poor performance on Friday night and I wanted to make sure we stepped onto the field and were competitive, and we did that at times tonight.”
He also wanted to make sure his players weren’t in awe of the Manchester United players, and warned his players what would happen if they entered the match with that mindset:
“We know who the opponent is and the individual players are, but if you step on the field wanting to shake their hands and just kinda wanting to be around them you’re gonna be in for a long night. It was important for us to step on the field and try to make a game out of it.”
No cards were issued Tuesday, which was much friendlier affair than last week’s friendly against Mexican side Club America, which featured two sending offs and seven cards in total.
After Tuesday’s embarrassment, the Earthquakes switched tactics, with Kinnear making two changes. The Quakes came out in a 4-2-3-1 with Jean-Baptiste Pierezzi joining Fatai Alashe as a second defensive midfielder. Cordell Cato made his return to the squad coming in for the suspended Sanna Nyassi, who was unavailable for selection due to earning a red card against Club America.
Unsurprisingly, Man United had the lion’s share of early chances. The first came in the 5th minute when Memphis Depay dribbled around Pierezzi and fired a close range shot at David Bingham’s chest that the goalkeeper could not corral. The rebound found Rooney, but the Englishman couldn’t find the angle and put the ball into the side-netting.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Despite another close call in the 9th minute, the San Jose defense held strong against consistent pressure from the Red Devils. That would last until the 32nd minute, however, when a moment of brilliance from Mata put the visitors ahead.
At the top of the box, Mata again dribbled past Pierezzi with ease, then unexpectedly chipped the ball across goal with his left foot. A late-reacting Bingham had no chance as the ball kissed the inside of the far post and into the net.
San Jose could only blame themselves when they conceded again just five minutes later. Pierezzi was again the culprit, this time under-hitting a back-pass to Bingham, right into the stride of Depay who easily thumped it home for United’s second.
The pass was eerily similar to Nyassi’s hideous back pass against Houston from two weeks ago. The play spoiled an excellent tackle by Pierazzi just seconds before that thwarted a United break, and capped a forgettable evening for the Frenchman.
It looked like San Jose was in danger of getting run out of their new home, but they finally gave their fans something to cheer about just before half. Shea Salinas beat Morgan Schneiderlin down the end line, and put a dangerous ball in the box. Fatai Alashe stretched just enough to redirect the ball into Sam Johnstone’s net. The goal is the first ever scored by an Earthquake against Manchester United.
Alashe gave credit for Salinas for doing most of the work:
“Obviously a great play from Shea. He beat the guy down the line and I saw him look up. I checked my run a little bit and dropped off the defender. He played a great ball in that I was able to reach and I got my foot on it and luckily it went in.”
Where does the goal rank for him?
“Pretty high up there. At the same time it’s a friendly so it doesn’t give us any points or anything like that. It’s unfortunate but it’s not often you get to score against Man U so it’s definitely up there on the rankings.’
Both teams made wholesale changes at halftime, with Alashe and Bingham the only Earthquakes to start the second half. Alashe would eventually get subbed off in the 64th minute. Recent signee and ex-Liverpool Academy midfielder Marc Pelosi made his first appearance for San Jose and nearly scored in the 71st minute, hitting a screamer just over the bar.
The second half proved to be a much more tepid affair, but United still managed to increase their lead in the 61st minute when an unmarked Andreas Pereira scored on an easy header in the middle of the San Jose penalty box.
Despite that, Manchester United Manager Louis Van Gaal praised the Earthquakes for their performance in the second half:
“In the second half I think San Jose Earthquakes were after 50 minutes the better team. So I think they did well.”
The Earthquakes have a four-day break before heading up to Canada for a Sunday match against rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. The game is key for San Jose who have fallen to eighth place in the Western Conference after consecutive losses against conference opponents.