The San Jose Earthquakes fell 4-3 to reigning Mexican champions Pachuca in a wonderfully strange friendly at Avaya Stadium on Saturday night. In contrast to the Quakes’ low-scoring affairs of late, coach Dominic Kinnear told his guys to “relax” and let loose on the night.
In many regards, though, it was oddly subdued for a seven-goal affair, with Pachuca scoring two goals in a cagey first half before the game opened up with four goals between the two sides in a chaotic span of five minutes. The Quakes then added another goal in stoppage time and felt pleased with their comeback despite falling just short.
The Quakes were missing fifteen first-team players due to injury and international absences, more than half of their twenty-eight man squad. They added four Sacramento Republic players for the match to cover these absences, but only Joaquin Rivas and Chase Minter played meaningful minutes off the bench.
The player rotation forced Dom Kinnear to stray from his favored 4-4-2 formation, setting up in a 4-2-3-1. Even Innocent Emeghara cracked the starting lineup, putting in a typically uninspired performance. In other areas, though, the Quakes could take more positives from the game heading into next weekend’s key matchup against the Seattle Sounders. Six international players will return for that match and Kinnear told QuakesTalk.com that goalkeeper David Bingham, sidelined with back soreness tonight, is also on track to recover.
Salinas on the spot in hectic finale
The first half was a cagey, defensive-oriented affair, with the Quakes reluctant to push forwards as Pachuca dominated possession. The visitors scored two goals, the first a result of Bryan Meredith’s gaffe — the goalkeeper letting a low, driven shot slip through his hands — and the second a gorgeous, curling free-kick from long range.
In stark contrast, the game opened up in the second half and the goals came thick and fast. Pachuca scored from a free-kick in the fifty-ninth minute, but Shea Salinas set up Tommy Thompson to keep the Quakes in the match with a cutback from the right. Pachuca immediately responded with a fourth goal from the penalty spot, but Salinas responded moments later with another strike and then grabbed a third for the Quakes in stoppage time after Pachuca had been reduced to ten men following a heated exchange of words between players.
Speaking to Quakes Talk after the game, Salinas broke down his two goals, saying: “The first goal, Tommy slid Chad [Barrett] in with a nice ball through. Chad had great awareness and back-heeled it to me, laying it off perfectly in my path. We work on that shot a lot in practice so I was able to slide it into the far post.
“The second goal, I was frustrated that I hadn’t really taken [their defender] in on the inside much, so as soon as I got it he was backing off me and I thought it was the perfect chance for me to take it inside and shoot it. Fortunately, I went into the side netting.”
All aboard the Tommy Thompson hype train!
Local favorite Thompson also got on the scoresheet, beating veteran Pachuca goalkeeper Oscar Perez with a bulleted diving header from Shea Salinas’ cross. Earlier, the twenty-one-year-old midfielder had also set up a golden chance for Chad Barrett with a lovely clipped ball over the top, but the chance went begging as Barrett failed to find the target.
Thompson is seeking a first-team breakthrough this season, having risen through the Quakes’ academy system. He has shown well for the United States Under-20 national teams and USL side Sacramento Republic on loan but is yet to find the scoresheet in forty Major League Soccer appearances since 2013. Being able to hit the back of the net against such strong opposition, however, bodes well for his future.
Or does it? “The guys were giving him grief saying it was an own goal so that Tommy couldn’t claim it,” Kinnear laughed.
Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear spoke to QuakesTalk.com after the match, reflecting positives thoughts from the night.
“[It was a] good exercise and great comeback at the end,” he said. “At 4-1, we could have just put our heads down and walked away but the guys showed great spirit to get two goals at the end and push hard.
“I just wanted the guys to relax a little…and enjoy the game. When the score was [4-1] there wasn’t too much enjoyment but the last couple goals brought some goals back to them.
“Guys are getting confidence, playing ninety minutes in a good competitive environment against a good opponent, and to finish off the game with two goals leaves the guys hungry and wanting more.”
Goalscorer Shea Salinas echoed Kinnear’s thoughts, saying: “We can take a lot of positives away from this game. We were organized defensively and I thought certain guys played really well, which bodes well going into next weekend. Seattle becomes a really big [test].”
Our man Aaron Morgan was pitchside to capture all the best shots from the match (Photos: © Aaron Morgan and QuakesTalk.com):
UPDATE: This article has been updated regarding the substitutions of Sacramento Republic players