KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The San Jose Earthquakes battled Sporting Kansas City to a scoreless draw in regulation but fell 4-2 in a penalty shootout in the Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Wild Card round on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.
The Earthquakes’ defense turned in a stellar performance for 90 minutes on the road as goalkeeper Daniel made three saves and the back line continuously kept the SKC attack at bay. While San Jose’s offense came to life in the second half, they could not emerge with the game-winning goal and the two teams immediately went to penalty kicks.
Though Daniel saved one SKC attempt, and Jack Skahan and Carlos Akapo netted for the Quakes, the hosts would emerge with the narrow win. San Jose concludes their season having returned to the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years.
The Earthquakes’ defense earned their first postseason shutout in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs since Nov. 4, 2012, when San Jose defeated the LA Galaxy on the road, 1-0, in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. Victor Bernardez scored the lone goal in the 94th minute to give the Quakes the victory.
Goalkeeper Daniel collected three saves and the Quakes’ defense blocked an additional four shots to keep the score deadlocked after 90 minutes despite Sporting Kansas City amassing 18 total shots.
San Jose’s all-time playoff record goes to 12-13-2 and 4-10-1 on the road, with an even 40 goals scored and 40 conceded. The Quakes’ postseason record against SKC drops to 2-2-1 with eight goals for and eight against.
Sporting Kansas City 0 (4) – 0 (2) San Jose Earthquakes
Wednesday, October 25, 2023 – Children’s Mercy Park; Kansas City, KS
SJ – Matthew Hoppe (caution) 55’
SKC – Andreu Fontas (caution) 59’
SJ – Jack Skahan (caution) 80’
SJ – Judson (caution) 87’
Penalty Shootout Summary:
SKC – Johnny Russell (goal)
SJ – Cristian Espinoza (no goal)
SKC – Alan Pulido (no goal)
SJ – Jackson Yueill (no goal)
SKC – Erik Thommy (goal)
SJ – Jack Skahan (goal)
SKC – Gadi Kinda (goal)
SJ – Carlos Akapo (goal)
SKC – Daniel Salloi (goal)
SPORTING KANSAS CITY: Tim Melia; Andreu Fontas, Dany Rosero, Jake Davis, Logan Ndenbe; Nemanja Radoja (Roger Espinoza 88’), Erik Thommy, Remi Walter (Gadi Kinda 68’); Johnny Russell (C), Alan Pulido, Daniel Salloi
Substitutes not used: John Pulskamp (GK), Willy Agada, Robert Castellanos, Felipe Gutierrez, Khiry Shelton, Robert Voloder, Graham Zusi
SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 0; FOULS: 3
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: Daniel; Paul Marie (Miguel Trauco 77’), Jonathan Mensah, Rodrigues, Carlos Akapo; Jackson Yueill (C), Carlos Gruezo (Judson 85’), Jamiro Monteiro (Niko Tsakiris 85’); Matthew Hoppe (Cade Cowell 57’), Jeremy Ebobisse (Jack Skahan 77’), Cristian Espinoza
Substitutes not used: Emi Ochoa (GK), Ayo Akinola, Tanner Beason, Tommy Thompson
SHOTS: 5; SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3; FOULS: 12
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH LUCHI GONZALEZ
On tonight’s final result:
“We came here with a quick turnaround and with a mission. We didn’t celebrate making the playoffs. We were really proud, and we reflected in the quick moment. We gave validation to all the work that we put into the season on and off the field. Trying to make our fans and families admire the way we act and play. We fought and kept building enough points to get into the playoffs. We came here on a mission and with motivation.”
On the team’s performance tonight:
“I thought our intensity was amazing, including our energy, our togetherness, and our work rate. I thought we got into the game eventually, and even in the second half we created good chances and with a few fresh legs coming in. I thought they did great. I thought we were unlucky at the end not to nick a last pass getting into the box. Getting just a different play that I think could have changed the game and put us in the win column in regulation. I am proud of the guys and the staff, and in our approach and our mentality going into the game.”
On the support felt through the season:
“I want to say thank you to our fans and our community for showing us amazing and relentless support and energy all season long, on and off the field and in and out of that stadium. We wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for them. I want to thank our staff. I want to thank their effort and commitment to being the best that they can be with the players from the front office, working their butts off to continue to grow the club and progress it forward off the field. On the field, helping us get support with our fanbase in our stadium. I want to thank our club as much as possible. I want to thank our technical staff, our first team support staff, and our players. Our players have been amazing.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES ATTACKER JACK SKAHAN
On his performance tonight and converting his penalty kick in the shootout:
“I was told to try and create attacks and be physical. Defensively do my job but when we got the ball, to try to create a goal and be physical with the center backs. I felt that is what I did. With the penalty, honestly I just focused on the ball. It was loud. With the penalty, I feel like you can focus on the ball and use the technique you are trying to use. He went the right way, but if you hit it hard enough then it’s probably going in. Fortunately it went in; [Tim Melia] is a great keeper on penalty kicks.
On the penalty shootout:
“There’s really not a ton of time going into that. We’re told the order, and the order is predicated by the coaches and conversations that they’ve had all week. We practiced them. We felt great because we have Daniel. PK shootouts are tough. The conversation is to be confident. Go there with confidence. Try to bury it. Bring energy. And I think we did that. Shootouts are a tough way to end the game.”