San Jose ended a six game winless streak and kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Avaya Stadium.
Clarence Goodson scored the game winner for the Quakes in the 53rd minute, heading home an excellent cross by Quincy Amarikwa that just squeezed inside the near post.
The goal was devastating for struggling Colorado, who nearly scored just a minute before when Dillion Powers’ header clattered off San Jose keeper David Bingham’s crossbar.
The matchup between the bottom teams in the Western Conference was unsightly as predicted, but the Earthquakes will gladly sacrifice style points for victories at this stage of the campaign.
The win is the Quakes’ (7-9-8) first in the league since July 28 and despite still sitting in eighth place, moves them three points behind the Seattle Sounders, who currently reside in the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, with a game in hand.
The Rapids fall deeper into the cellar, and now sit in last place by five points.
Shockingly, recent signing Anibal Godoy made his Earthquakes debut despite arriving in San Jose at 10 a.m this morning.
The Earthquakes don’t train on game days, but head coach Dominic Kinnear decided to select the Panamanian midfielder for his starting XI anyway.
Godoy looked surprisingly comfortable slotting into the defensive midfield slot usually occupied by the suspended Fatai Alashe, and showed impressive passing ability from the holding position.
It was an encouraging performance considering the circumstances. Dominic Kinnear explained his decision to start Godoy before he’s trained with the club:
“At this time in the season when you bring in a player like him, or you bring in somebody new that you think can help the team, he’s not here to blend in and to work his way into the game.”
Goodson returned from injury to score the goal, and was also part of a back line that recorded it’s seventh clean sheet of the season, despite losing Jordan Stewart in the first half to injury. Bingham was proud of the performance:
“I think the back five we had tonight was outstanding. We went back to how we were playing at the beginning of the year. We were compact and it was very hard for them to break us down. I felt Shaun [Francis] came in and showed why he is a true vet to take over for Jordan [Stewart] after he went off the field. Great performance all around and the game-winning goal came from our backline.”
The first half was an extremely tepid affair that saw a total lack of cohesion from both sides, even leading to booing from fans as the players headed to the locker room at halftime.
Both Quincy Amarikwa and Shea Salinas were involved in the only two chances of the first half.
In the 22nd minute, Salinas nutmeged one defender and raced past another down the left flank before finding Amarikwa, who forced a near post save from Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
The duo almost completed what would’ve been a beautiful goal in the 42nd minute, when Amarikwa stretched to play a through ball on an impressive give-and-go with Salinas who had his shot deflected out for a corner.
Unfortunately, a potentially serious injury for San Jose left-back Jordan Stewart was the most notable event of the half. Stewart collapsed without contact in the 25th minute and rolled around on the turf holding his left ankle.
The Englishman was helped off the pitch and appeared unable to put any weight on his left leg.
The Earthquakes took another blow early in the second half when Matias Perez Garcia limped off the pitch and was replaced with Marc Pelosi.
Garcia has been dealing with a nagging left hamstring injury and could be seen screaming in frustration as he walked toward the bench.
Colorado was unlucky not to take the lead soon after, when Powers beat Bingham to a cross in the box only to whack his header off the crossbar.
Things got worse for the visitors when they failed to clear a San Jose free kick out of their own penalty area soon after. The ball ended up at the sure feet of Amarikwa, who chipped in a perfect cross over the outstretched arm of Irwin. Goodson rose highest to nod the ball off the post and in for his second goal of 2015.
The Quakes are back on the road next week to face a tough a Sporting Kansas City side that has the third best goal differential in the Western Conference by a significant margin. KC currently sits in fourth place with 37 points and has two games in hand on San Jose.