Designated Player signing Vako Qazaishvili scored his first goal for the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night but it made only a dent in their 5-1 capitulation against the New York Red Bulls. Despite Vako’s promising MLS debut, a late collapse saw the Red Bulls put four past the Quakes in the final seventeen minutes of the match.
Chris Leitch’s men had hoped to overturn a narrow 1-0 deficit with the halftime introduction of Vako, yet Red Bulls forwards Sacha Kljestan, Felipe, and Daniel Royer preyed upon the defensive vulnerability of the visitors to expand their lead. The Quakes were without regular starters Anibal Godoy, Marco Ureña, Darwin Ceren, Kofi Sarkodie, and Victor Bernardez, which destabilized their midfield lineup.
“New York did a good job at coming out early and pressing us. We got a little bit away from what we wanted to do from the start,” said Leitch. “Some people are bothered that maybe it is five goals, that we could have shortened it up, put an extra guy back there and maybe it was 3-1. I would rather try to get back into a game, try to stay on the front foot and try to challenge them than I would just close up shop and stop another goal or two from going in.”
On Vako’s debut, he added: “It is a tough game for him to come into for a new guy that we have good expectations on. It is really tough for him to come on in this kind of game away, down and after the stretch that we’ve had. You have to give him a couple of games, but I thought when he went in there he showed some good quality and he is only going to get better.”
The Red Bulls had enjoyed the best chances of the first half, with Sean Davis and Kljestan coming close from distance early on, and limited the Quakes to meager efforts from Danny Hoesen and Tommy Thompson.
Davis emphatically volleyed the Red Bulls into the lead in the thirty-eighth minute and the Quakes struggled to recover. The Red Bulls continued their attack into the second half, with Royer and Davis testing Bingham from close range.
Bingham nearly let one slip on the hour mark but the Red Bull forwards weren’t prepared to connect with a low cross on the goal line. Nonetheless, their crucial second goal finally came in the seventy-third minute as Kljestan coolly converted a deflected cross from twelve yards out.
Vako pulled one back from Jahmir Hyka’s cross but the Quakes’ night went from bad to worse as Felipe’s low shot was deflected past David Bingham. Royer made it four in the ninetieth minute, beating Bingham from a tight angle at the near post, and curled home another a fifth in stoppage time. So much for Vako’s late strike, the Quakes were simply holding on for dear life by the end of the ninety minutes.