SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the defending MLS Cup champions LAFC 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Tonight’s result sees the Quakes extend their home unbeaten streak to six games (5-0-1) and give Los Angeles FC their first loss of the 2023 season, snapping their 10-match unbeaten streak. Saturday’s game at Levi’s Stadium was attended by 45,112 fans, third-most of any MLS match so far this season.
The Quakes opened the scoring early with a strike from Cristian Espinoza in the eighth minute. Jeremy Ebobisse passed a ball just outside the box to Jamiro Monteiro, who sent a pass through two LAFC defenders to Cristian Espinoza for the low strike past goalkeeper John McCarthy and into his net.
LAFC later leveled the scoring with a goal from Denis Bouanga in the 30th minute.
San Jose eventually found the game-winning goal via penalty by Cristian Espinoza in the 83rd minute for his second goal of the night. Ebobisse earned the penalty kick by getting tripped in the box.
The Earthquakes will now prepare for another rivalry matchup against the LA Galaxy in Carson, Calif. on Sunday, May 14. The match will kick off from Dignity Health Sports Park at 6:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed globally on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app, as well as on local radio via 810 AM The Spread (English) and 1370 KZSF (Spanish).
The Earthquakes now hold a 5-3-3 record (18 pts.) during the 2023 regular season and currently sit in fourth place in the 14-team Western Conference.
Tonight’s win extends San Jose’s unbeaten record at home in 2023 (5-0-1).
The Quakes are now 6-7-0 all-time against LAFC, including a 5-2-0 record at home. San Jose remain undefeated against LAFC at home since 2020 (4-0-0).
Today’s match marked the Earthquakes’ first regular season game at Levi’s Stadium since May 2015.
Forward Cristian Espinoza scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season and 22nd and 23rd of his MLS career. Espinoza is now tied for first in goals in MLS this season (8), alongside LAFC’s Denis Bouanga and Seattle’s Jordan Morris. Espinoza has now successfully converted eight consecutive penalty kicks and has made eight of nine overall during his MLS career. It marked his third multi-goal game of his career and he is now tied for third most game-winning goals in club history (10).
Forward Jeremy Ebobisse tallied an assist on Espinoza’s first goal, marking his second assist of the season and 14th of his MLS career.
Since the start of the 2022 MLS season, forwards Jeremy Ebobisse and Cristian Espinoza have scored or assisted on 50 of 67 goals scored by the Quakes, a 74.6 percentage.
Midfielder Jamiro Monteiro tallied an assist on Espinoza’s first goal, marking his second assist of the season and 31st of his MLS career. He has now tallied 10 assists with the Quakes since his arrival in February 2022.
2023 MLS Regular Season
San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 1 LAFC
Saturday, May 6, 2023 – Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
Man of the Match: Cristian Espinoza
SJ (1-0) – Cristian Espinoza (Jamiro Monteiro, Jeremy Ebobisse) 8’
LAFC (1-1) – Denis Bouanga (unassisted) 30’
SJ (2-1) – Cristian Espinoza (penalty) 83’
LAFC – Mateusz Borgusz (caution) 29’
LAFC – Denil Maldonado (caution) 85’
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Paul Marie, Rodrigues, Jonathan Mensah, Miguel Trauco; Jamiro Monteiro (Tanner Beason 90+3’), Carlos Gruezo, Jackson Yueill (C) (Judson 86’); Cade Cowell (Benji Kikanović 71’), Jeremy Ebobisse (Ousseni Bouda 90+3’), Cristian Espinoza.
Substitutes not used: Michael Baldisimo, Daniel (GK), Daniel Munie, Tommy Thompson, Niko Tsakiris.
SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 13; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 6*
LAFC: John McCarthy; Denil Maldonado, Diego Palacios (Ryan Hollingstead 89’), Sergi Palacios, Aaron Long; Ilie Sanchez (Kellyn Acosta 75’), Timothy Tillman, Mateusz Borgusz (Kwadwo Opoku 63’); Jose Cifuentes, Carlos Vela (C) (Stipe Biuk 75’), Denis Bouanga.
Substitutes not used: Daniel Crisostomo, Noah Dollenmayer, Erik Duenas, Abraham Romero (GK), Christian Torres.
SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 7; FOULS: 10; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 1*
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH LUCHI GONZALEZ
On his appreciation on today’s showdown:
“I first and foremost want to thank everyone in our club, the front office, operations, ticketing, and everyone involved in just the connection with our community and our fanbase because it was really special today in the stadium just to get that much support and numbers. Our locker room even having spirit, swag of San Jose Earthquakes, which I know the players really felt and it helped them. To put on these games is not easy, it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of belief and care, and we felt that from the club. It gave us the opportunity to play a game in the environment that we saw today.”
On the team’s performance today:
“We have a team that can compete with anyone. We still have a lot of work to do. I want to see us progress and try to get better every day with each game. Two weeks ago, we had some results that didn’t go our way, and we were disappointed with, but you never felt the guys stop being open to feedback, believing and working hard in training. They’re always looking to respond, and I’m proud of them for that. We knew tonight was going to be very difficult, an undefeated LAFC, a team that is in multiple competitions and doing well in all of them because they are very good. They have depth which they showed tonight. We knew we could focus on ourselves and what we can do attacking well, defending well as a group. We can win, we can beat anybody. Really proud of our guys to do that, even scoring and then conceding, you felt their belief. You felt their grit to push through and second half you know LAFC threw some things at us that were not easy to deal with defensively. But I saw all of our guys try to make plays, block shots, you have to close down a [Carlos] Vela, you have to close down a [Denis] Bouanga and I saw a great effort to do that collectively. And then we got our goal, we got our chances. We attacked open space, and we earned our penalty, and then you know Cristian [Espinoza] took care of business. To me it’s an earned win for sure, but it’s only going to get harder and stronger for everybody. We’re going to rest now. We’re going to try to have another good performance against another LA rival next week.”
On game-winning goal scorer Cristian Espinoza:
“Cristian first and foremost is an amazing human-being, a family guy. Every training he works. He’s a leader by example with how hard he works. He makes every exercise count, every competition count in training, and it shows. He reaps the reward on the field. I think he’s a player that you got to get him closer to the goal. You know he’s going to get crosses, he’s going to get assists, that’s what he does naturally. But if he’s closer to the goal, closer to the box, he can score his own goals, right foot or left foot. I am really proud of him. He’s only going to get marked tighter, closed down, there’s going to be more physicality on him, double teaming him, but he has such a great mentality. I am confident he will find solutions to keep being dangerous. I definitely see his name can be relevant in any of these categories. What I love too is he got [MLS] Player of the Month and the first thing he said to the team was like, ‘for me it’s about the team. I care more about Team of the Month and team glory than the individual and thank you.’ He gave a big thank you to all his teammates, he recognizes that, and he lives that. Let’s keep going.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CRISTIAN ESPINOZA
On the team’s approach to defeating an unbeaten LAFC:
“We were working during the week, knowing that if we moved the ball fast from side to side, we could break the line of pressure. I think that the [first] goal came in that way, they tried to press high, and we moved the ball fast to break their lines, and thankfully we could score.”
On playing in front of the huge crowd at Levi’s Stadium:
“It was very special to see all the fans here. It was more than over 40,000, so that is something very special to feel from on the field with their support. We are very grateful to them, and we responded on the field to give them a victory.”
On his partnership with fellow teammate Jeremy Ebobisse:
“We are working together on the front line of the team. This partnership has been built up step by step over time, as you are never going to bring two players and have them work out immediately. I think that this partnership is really good. We understand each other really well on the field and off the field too, and we are happy to help the team.”