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Quakes break funk behind Hoesen eruption

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After four straight losses to start the season, a masterful Danny Hoesen helped San Jose batter the Portland Timbers 3-0 Saturday night to earn heir first victory of the season.

The original headline for this story misspelled the name of Earthquakes forward Danny Hoesen. SFBay regrets the error.

The victory was the first in MLS for head coach Matias Almeyda, who began his Quakes tenure with four straight losses.

A glowing Almeyda said:

“Today is a good day. I think the team interpreted my plan well. We got the result we were looking for. I liked everyone’s conviction tonight. It’s not easy to come back from so many loses.”

Unlike previous games this campaign, there was no San Jose mistake that lead directly to a Timbers goal, or even a chance. This wasn’t just the most impressive offensive display for the Quakes, it was also the most impressive on defense.

Left back Tommy Thompson praised the team effort when he said:

“We were precise, we followed our men, and we shut down some high quality players. That’s what we have to do. We had a great game plan.” 

Hoesen, last seasons leading scorer and team MVP made his first start of the season and looked incredibly sharp from the start generating chances for himself and his teammates early and often.

Hoesen almost started the party for San Jose in the third minute sending a perfect pass across the box that was just out of reach for Magnus Eriksson.

The Quakes breakthrough, however, came in the 15th minute. After Timbers keeper Jeff Attinella denied Hoesen’s attempt on goal, Cristian Espinoza gained possession of the ball. From the right flank inside the box, the Quakes winger exploded horizontally towards goal and squared a pass inside the keeper’s area where a waiting Shea Salinas tucked it home giving San Jose the early 1-0 lead.

Hoesen’s impact in the first half was more than just creating missed chances, as he made one count in the 32nd minute. An Eriksson shot was parted away by the Portland keepers foot, but he was not able to control the rebound. The ball trickled parallel to the goal line until an opportunistic Hoesen netted the ball into top netting with no keeper in sight.

Seconds later, before the buzzing in the stadium gradually passed, the Quakes put the game out of reach on an Espinoza breakaway. The number 10 streamed into the box after quickly gaining possession back and blasted a seething right footed shot into the bottom left corner giving San Jose a 3-0 lead, much to the delight of head coach Almeyda, who was in a massive celebration with his assistants.

It was a stunning first half hour plus of action.

On the first half, Hoesen said:

“I think we started really well, a lot of energy in the first half and three good goals, It was very exciting for us. We gave so much energy in the first half.”

To start the second half San Jose looked much more reserved perhaps hoping to run out the clock. While playing with the lead, the San Jose defense looked calm, compact, and in control. Any Timbers action was stamped out by defenders before it got too dangerous.

In the 56′ minute, Portland Timbers Sebastian Blanco’s shot toward goal clattered into the hand of a diving Harold Cummings. As a result, Cummings was awarded a yellow and Portland a penalty kick. The dangerous Diego Valeri took the penalty and initially sent goalkeeper Daniel Vega the wrong way, diving to his right, but Valeri’s attempt was right down the middle and Vega miraculously saved it with his foot, preserving the clean sheet and denying Portland a consolation goal.

On the shutout Vega said:

“A clean sheet is very important for us. That is the most important thing, to be together at this moment because we need everybody to be ready to play. It was a very good victory and I’m very happy.”

Nick Lima, who was the first name on the team sheet for all of last season, was on the bench for the second straight game. Lima almost gave coach Almeyda something to think about in terms of team selection when he came on as a sub and hammered home a screamer into the top left corner. Video review eventually ruled it no goal, thanks to an Earthquake forward lined up offside.

On Lima’s omission Almeyda said:

“Nick has the same chances as everyone else. Tommy Thompson played really well. Nick regrettably has had some errors that lead to opposition goals. His confidence and level are important to us. We believe in him, we know the fans love him and so do we.”

Thompson, formally a midfielder, made another start at left back and looked comfortable throughout. Center back Florian Jungwirth made his first start of the season in place for the injured Guram Kashia.

Thompson on his new found position:

“I told Matias (head coach) at the beginning of the season. I want to be on the field. If he thinks I can help the team at right-back ill play right back. I’m excited, and I want to contribute any way I can.”

This win was the first for San Jose dating back to August 29th of last season, when they beat FC Dallas. Tommy Thompson had that in mind taming expectations following the win when he said:

“I think the important thing to remember is that you can’t lose the season in the first five games and you can’t win the season in the first five games. I wasn’t too down last week, and I’m not too up this week.”   

San Jose hopes to extend their newly found winning ways next Saturday April 13, when they hit the road to take on the Houston Dynamo for a noon kickoff.

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