The San Jose Earthquakes staged a vintage Cali Clasico comeback on Saturday night, stealing a riveting 2-1 victory courtesy of Shea Salinas’ stoppage time goal. Despite enduring a rough first half, the Quakes held on and then second-half goals from Chris Wondolowski and Salinas sealed the victory.
In his first MLS outing as Quakes head coach, Chris Leitch stuck with the 3-5-2 he employed in their midweek US Open Cup victory over the Seattle Sounders and was aided by defender Florian Jungwirth’s return from injury. Leitch also made the bold decision to hand rookie Jackson Yeuill his first-ever MLS start, the midfielder having impressed as a substitute against Real Salt Lake last weekend.
However, the Galaxy pressed high up the pitch from the get-go, denying the Quakes the numerical advantage in the middle that they had enjoyed against the Sounders. Wondolowski carved the game’s first chance with a deflected effort curling over the crossbar in the third minute but the Quakes fell prey to a set-piece goal from Jelle Van Damme nine minutes later.
Leitch had emphasized his team’s physical disadvantage on set pieces after the Seattle game and it was painfully obvious when Van Damme emphatically volleyed Jose Villareal’s free-kick into the back of the net, unmarked at the far post. Van Damme was the Galaxy’s unequivocal leader during their 4-2 victory over the Quakes earlier this season and had never previously never lost to the Bay Area side.
The Quakes regrouped, with Tommy Thompson and Cordell Cato each shooting over from range, but the Galaxy had an answer to every attack. Leitch was animated on the touchline, yet his team lacked the same gumption and went into the half with a hill to climb.
They came out for the second half with renewed vigor and an important tactical change as Thompson switched wings with Cato, who had been struggling to create chances on the right flank. Thompson rattled the post with a driven effort in the fifty-third minute and also set up Jahmir Hyka to shoot over soon thereafter.
Cato’s collision with LA goalkeeper Clément Diop prompted the first substitution of the match, Shea Salinas’ introduction.
The Galaxy put the Quakes under significant pressure in the final fifteen minutes but a quick Quakes counter-attack caught the visitors unaware. David Bingham made a game-saving stop to deny Dave Romney’s header and collected the ball to punt a perfectly weighted pass long for Wondolowski. The forward lost his marker with a neat cut-back and buried the chance with a clinical finish.
And just on cue, with the clock ticking down, Salinas struck an emphatic winner deep into stoppage time.