ATLANTA, Ga. – The San Jose Earthquakes fell to Atlanta United FC 2-1 in their 2023 MLS season opener on Saturday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. San Jose scored early through Jeremy Ebobisse and held a 1-0 lead into the second-half stoppage time, but Atlanta scored two late goals to prevail.
The Earthquakes will now return to San Jose to prepare for their home opener against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday, March 4, presented by Coca-Cola. Kickoff from PayPal Park is slated for 7:30 p.m. PT and will be streamed globally on MLS Season Pass (Apple TV), as well as on local radio via 810 AM The Spread (English) and 1370 KZSF (Spanish). The Quakes will host a 20-year celebration for the 2003 MLS Cup championship squad, and 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a 2003 replica shersey.
The Earthquakes currently hold a 0-1-0 record (0 pts.) during the 2023 MLS regular season.
San Jose is now 0-4-0 all-time vs. Atlanta United FC, including a 0-3-0 record on the road.
Forward Jeremy Ebobisse scored his first goal of the season and 45th goal of his MLS career.
Forward Cristian Espinoza tallied an assist on Ebobisse’s goal, marking his first assist of the season and 45th of his MLS career. He has now passed Richard Mulrooney for the third-most assists in club history and is now five away from tying assist-leader Shea Salinas (50).
Defender Rodrigues tallied an assist on Ebobisse’s goal, marking his first assist of the season and first of his MLS career.
Goalkeeper Daniel and defender Carlos Akapo made their MLS debuts while defender Jonathan Mensah and midfielders Michael Baldisimo and Carlos Gruezo made their Quakes debuts.
2023 MLS Regular Season
Atlanta United FC 2 – 1 San Jose Earthquakes
Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 – Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
SJ (1-0) – Jeremy Ebobisse (Cristian Espinoza, Rodrigues) 12’
ATL (1-1) – Thiago Almada (Brooks Lennon) 90+3’
ATL (2-1) – Thiago Almada (unassisted) 90+8’
SJ – Carlos Gruezo (caution) 13’
SJ – Benji Kikanović (caution) 90+1’
ATL – Franco Ibarra (caution) 90+1’
ATL – Thiago Almada (caution) 90+8’
ATLANTA UNITED FC: Bran Guzan; Brooks Lennon, Miles Robinson, Franco Ibarra; Andrew Gutman, Juan Jose Purata (Luis Abram 80’); Caleb Wiley (Derrick Etienne Jr. 56’); Luis Araujo, Matheus Rossetto (Amar Sejdic 80’), Thiago Almada; Jackson Conway (Miguel Berry 56’).
Substitutes not used: Ronald Hernandez, Noah Cobb, Quentin Westberg, Jay Fortune, Aiden McFadden.
SHOTS: 20; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 14; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 3
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: Daniel; Miguel Trauco (Tanner Beason 85’), Rodrigues, Jonathan Mensah, Paul Marie (Carlos Akapo 61’); Jamiro Monteiro (Michael Baldisimo 85’), Carlos Gruezo, Jackson Yueill (C); Cade Cowell (Benji Kikanović 69’), Jeremy Ebobisse, Cristian Espinoza (Jack Skahan 85’).
Substitutes not used: Ousseni Bouda, JT Marcinkowski (GK), Daniel Munie, Tommy Thompson.
SHOTS: 10; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 14; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 3
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH LUCHI GONZALEZ
On the takeaways following tonight’s season opener:
“Obviously it was a tough end result. The product of 90+ minutes, 97, 98 minutes, were good, but it is disappointing that the result did not happen for us. This is a tough place to play, the crowd pushed until the end, you could see the players push until the end, and I am proud of our group. I have zero doubt in the way that we are working, zero doubt in our group, who they are as people, and who they want to be as professionals. I have no doubt in our potential, and this is about steps. This is a result that even a draw would have been something positive to take away from it. But I will take the most positive thing away from it, which is learning and building character. That is what I see in our locker room, our staff, and our players, but we have to get our head up high quickly, move forward, and prepare for the next game. I have zero doubt in this group. Congrats to Atlanta.”
On having control during the majority of the match:
“No, I felt that we had the match in control. I was very confident that we were going to win the match. We put up a good mid-to-low block, using a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 [formation], and it was hard to break through. Even though there were shots made, they were blocked or from a distance that we think we can handle. [Atlanta United FC] was good at making combinations centrally, so that is why we tried to load the middle defensively, play compact, but they sprayed the ball wide a few times with some interesting crosses, and the corner came from a cross. Look, I am proud of our group to grind through, to suffer, and to do a lot of what it takes to get a result, but we were unfortunate that it just did not bounce our way and credit to Atlanta for having quality on their set pieces. But again, this match could have been 2-0 for us. The quality of chances we had were pretty good, maybe higher than theirs, and we did not make it 2-0, which is a lesson to be learned. Again, that is the match, and we have a great group to improve on and this will only help us get better.”
On the play of newcomers Jonathan Mensah and Carlos Gruezo:
“I think they are positive additions. They give us defensive solidarity, bite, aggressiveness, intensity, and they are very coachable, good people, family people, and a great addition to our locker room both on and off the field. I think their performances were positive tonight, and they are going to be really important for the rest of the season.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD BENJI KIKANOVIĆ
On tonight’s match and positive takeaways:
“I think we played pretty well in the first half. Our midfield was moving the ball well, we were finding Jebo [Jeremy Ebobisse]. I thought everyone was clicking on all cylinders. For the most part, as you all saw, we played well. It’s just that in the second half, we didn’t do what we needed to do. They just kept attacking and attacking, and eventually they broke through and got one goal, and then the second one.”
On next focusing on the home opener vs. Vancouver next Saturday:
“It’s a new year, it’s the first game. I don’t think everyone should be too down on themselves. We played well the first half, and then they broke through. They got one, then two, which sucks but we just have to keep pushing. We can’t put our heads down and think it’s over because it’s a long season and we know that. We just have to keep on working and get a result next game and get three points.”