San Jose traveled north and into the loud environment of Century Link field and left with all three points, even after being reduced to 10 men. Seattle had a lead within the first 30 seconds, but two goals from Chris Wondolowski and a third from new designated player Innocent Emeghara were enough to win the game 3-2, despite a late goal from Seattle.
It was an impressive win, and a good sign that San Jose was able to see out the game and didn’t seem to have any confidence issues after the tough opening season loss in Dallas.
Three thoughts from the game
1. San Jose snaps 16-game winless streak
It took six months, but San Jose finally got a win, Saturday night’s victory was its first since beating Seattle 1-0 in the opening game at Levi’s Stadium. A lot has changed since then and this team looks much more confident on offense and capable on defense.
After giving up an early goal, San Jose took control of the match. They had long spells of possession where they were able to pin Seattle back and responded well with a deserved equalizer. They came out strong in the second half and it was the desire of Wondolowski that saw them take advantage of a Seattle mistake to take their first lead of the season.
Head coach Dominic Kinnear has the team playing well in his second stint and I am sure he will be happy to have snapped that bad streak going into the home opener at Avaya Stadium.
2. Center back depth to be tested
San Jose started the game down a center back with Clarence Goodson still recovering from a foot injury. By the end of this match, it appeared that two more could miss games.
Victor Bernardez will be suspended three games (perhaps less on appeal) for his straight red card and it remains to be seen the extent of the injury that saw Paulto Renato taken off early.
Ty Harden will surely start the Quakes’ next game against Chicago but his partner is still a big question mark. Will Bernardez get the call after missing the first two games? Will Renato be recovered enough to partner with Harden? Or will midfielder J.J. Koval be called upon to be an emergency center back?
3. San Jose shows off offensive fire power
Kinnear has emphasized attacking soccer and it showed with San Jose putting three goals in the back of the net. After being a bit wasteful with his chances in the opener against Dallas, Wondolowski was clinical, scoring two and bringing his career tally to nine against Seattle. Matias Perez Garcia was a menace for Seattle’s backline and showed a growing understanding with the attackers playing in front of him.
Wondolowski and Garcia were excellent but the attacking movement of the night belonged to Emeghara. The buildup to his goal was excellent and it was finished superbly. The whole movement will definitely be a part of the end-of-season highlights and should be a candidate for the goal of the weekend.
Three attacking designated players in Wonodolski, Emeghara and Garcia should give the Earthquakes plenty of firepower upon which to build. It is still early in the season, but the first two games have shown that this team might have enough to surprise some people in the Western Conference.
Player Ratings (1-10, 10=Best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
David Bingham – GK, 8: Bingham had another really good performance and this time he didn’t make a big mistake that led to a goal. He continued to be aggressive off his line and he did well to smother dangerous crosses across his six-yard box and to claim floated balls into his box. He also did well stopping shots, saving seven. On the two goals that he did let in, there wasn’t too much he could do — it was a strong performance that showed he didn’t have his confidence shaken after the Dallas match.
Shaun Francis – LB, 6.5: Francis put in a solid game. He kept it conservative, attacking with the less defensive-minded Emeghara in front of him. He also did well on defense, sharing the lead in tackles with Fatai Alashe with five each.
Paulto Renato – CB, 6: Renato didn’t quite live up to the level that he showed against Dallas, but he still had a solid shift. He got caught flat-footed on the opening goal and had a whiff of a clearance that led to a one-on-one. He left due to injury in the 64th minute.
Victor Bernardez – CB, 5.5: Bernardez got an early shower after a clumsy foul that had him shown straight red. It wasn’t an intentional foul but it was a dangerous play where he was late getting to a ball. He was okay before the red, though he had some trouble dealing with the pace of Obafemi Martins. Not the best of Bernardez.
Marvell Wynne – RB, 8.5: An excellent performance from Wynne. He owned the right side of the field for San Jose on both offense and defense. He put in an excellent cross to find Wondolowski for the opening goal and was dangerous from the flanks all night. On defense he anticipated Seattle’s moves, getting four interceptions while also leading the way with nine clearances.
J.J. Koval – MF, 6.5: Koval had a lot asked of him and responded after a rather anonymous opening performance against Dallas. He was solid in midfield early in the match before getting forced into emergency center back duty when Renato got hurt. His passing was a weak point as he completed only 56% of his attempts. None were huge mistakes, but simplifying things might help in the future.
Fatai Alashe – MF, 7.5: Alashe looked assured and confident in midfield and showed why San Jose made him the No. 4 overall pick in the Super Draft. He did well to help San Jose control the middle of the field and showed both a ruthlessness with his tackling and good anticipation while making interceptions. He didn’t do much going forward, but his presence gave the attacking midfielders the license to be more aggressive knowing he was there to cover behind them.
Innocent Emeghara – AML, 8: Emeghara was impressive in his first MLS start and paid back the choice to make him a designated player with a beautiful goal. On the goal he beat two players with some nifty footwork, played a nice one-two with Adam Jahn, and had a nice cutback to beat the final defender to set himself up for a bending right-footed shot past the keeper. What is perhaps more impressive was his work rate on defense late in the game when he was suffering from cramps. A great performance overall.
Matias Perez Garcia – AMC, 7.5: Garcia was one of San Jose’s most dangerous players, and with more time on the pitch he looked certain to add his name to the score sheet. Unfortunately he had to be sacrificed for another defender after Bernardez was sent off.
Sanna Nyassi – AMR, 7: Nyassi put in a hardworking performance to, along with Wynne, really lock down the right side of the field. Perhaps he could have done more on offense than take just one long shot. However, with San Jose not wanting more offense on the night, his defensive contributions were huge.
Chris Wondolowski – ST, 9: Wondolowski was a clinical and ruthless striker on this night. He cooly finished both of his major chances and added two more key passes. He obviously got less service after the red card as he dropped deeper into the midfield, but he did well to provide five clearances as Seattle added pressure late in the game.
Ty Harden – CB, 6: Came on to replace Bernardez and helped to preserve the lead and three points for the Earthquakes. He probably could have done better on the second goal, but overall he put in a fine performance in a makeshift center back pairing.
Adam Jahn– ST, 6.5: Jahn came on for the injured Renato, which pushed the other central players back further. He did well to act as a pressure relief target man and even added an assist on Emeghara’s goal with a nice one-touch pass on the give-and-go that saw him through on goal.
Shea Salinas – AMR, NR: Came on late to help get fresh legs on the field to see out the lead. Helped out on defense but didn’t have any notable contributions or mistakes.