PHOTO CREDIT: ISI Photos
The late-February warm-up at Avaya Stadium has become a preseason fixture for the San Jose Earthquakes in the Dominic Kinnear era, though this year’s edition shaped up a little differently than usual. The Quakes defeated NorCal rivals Sacramento Republic 4-1 in their final preseason match on Saturday afternoon, a more emphatic repeat of their 2-1 victory last year, as the Quakes displayed their full array of offseason European signings.
Whereas the match previously served as a dress rehearsal for opening day, this time Kinnear seized the opportunity to experiment with the club’s retooled offensive force. Winter signings Marco Ureña, Danny Hoesen, Florian Jungwirth, and Jahmir Hyka all made their Avaya Stadium debuts, pushing club veteran Chris Wondolowski (who was carrying a niggling ankle injury) onto the bench.
Sacramento nearly took an early lead on a quick breakaway, but US national team goalkeeper David Bingham came off his line to make a fantastic stop and demonstrate how he’s likely once again play a critical role for the Quakes. Sacramento nearly scored from the rebound, but Victor Bernardez was there to make the goal-line block and clear the ball.
The Quakes took the lead in the fifteenth minute as Tommy Thompson got in behind the line from Nick Lima’s long throw-in and flicked the ball to the far post, where Shea Salinas outmuscled his marker and slotted the ball home.
Fatai Alashe then headed just wide from Salinas’ cross and Ureña nearly scored from a spectacular effort on the ground following a foiled breakaway, but Sacramento held the Quakes at one into the half.
Jahmir Hyka replaced Salinas at halftime, yet the Quakes endured an inauspicious start to the second period as Anibal Godoy was called for a handball in the box and Sammy Ochoa converted the subsequent penalty to equalize for Sacramento.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) February 25, 2017
However, the Quakes’ new signings gave the home side a surplus of talent coming off the bench and Kinnear brought on Darwin Ceren and Danny Hoesen to immediate effect. Ceren fed Dawkins for a low, driven goal from twenty-five yards in the sixty-sixth minute and Hyka converted Godoy’s low cross soon after.
Superdraft pick and second half substitute Jackson Yueill came close from the top of the box with five minutes to go and Hoesen put the game to bed with a clinical finish on the end of a long ball over the top.
— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) February 26, 2017
The home side cruised to the finish line, sealing a convincing victory that bodes well for their season opening against the Montreal Impact next weekend.