SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Colorado Rapids 1-0 at PayPal Park on Saturday night to improve to 2-1-0. Forward Cristian Espinoza scored the lone goal of the match and has now tallied a goal or an assist in each of the team’s first three matches of the season. The win propels the Earthquakes to fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
After a scoreless first half, Espinoza gave the San Jose the lead on a shot from distance. His right-footed attempt from outside the penalty area took a slight deflection and hit the underside of the crossbar on its way into the back of the net.
Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, making his first appearance of 2023, helped San Jose earn their first shutout of the season. The Quakes’ strong defensive performance held Colorado without a single shot on target.
The Earthquakes will now travel to face St. Louis CITY SC on Saturday, March 18. The match will kick off from CITYPARK at 5:30 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 Earthquakes currently hold a 2-1-0 record (6 pts.) in the 2023 MLS regular season. The win propels the Earthquakes to fourth place in the Western Conference standings.
San Jose is now 32-25-18 all-time vs. the Colorado Rapids, including a 19-9-9 record at home.
The Quakes have only lost once when hosting the Rapids at PayPal Park since its opening in 2015 (6-1-2).
Defender Carlos Akapo made his first start for San Jose. He joined the club in August 2022.
Forward Cristian Espinoza scored his first goal of the season and 16th of his MLS career. He has now tallied a goal or an assist in each of the team’s first three matches of the season.
Midfielder Jackson Yueill made his 150th MLS appearance. Yueill is now tied with Jon Busch for the ninth most appearances in club history.
Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made his first appearance of 2023, starting and playing 90 minutes. He earned San Jose’s first shutout of the season.
2023 MLS Regular Season
San Jose Earthquakes 1 – 0 Colorado Rapids
Saturday, March 11, 2023 – PayPal Park in San Jose, Calif.
SJ (1-0) – Cristian Espinoza (unassisted) 78’
COL – Bryan Acosta (caution) 47’
COL – Jack Price (caution) 90+3’
SJ – Jamiro Monteiro (ejection) 90+3’
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Miguel Trauco (Tanner Beason 90+1’), Rodrigues, Jonathan Mensah, Carlos Akapo (Paul Marie 64’); Jamiro Monteiro, Carlos Gruezo, Jackson Yueill ©; Cade Cowell (Benji Kikanović 73’), Jeremy Ebobisse, Cristian Espinoza (Tommy Thompson 90+1’).
Substitutes not used: Michael Baldisimo, Ousseni Bouda, Daniel (GK), Daniel Munie, Jack Skahan.
SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 9; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 0
COLORADO RAPIDS: William Yarbrough ©, Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar (Sam Nicholson 39’), Alex Gersbach (Michael Barrios 82’), Connor Ronan (Jack Price 64’), Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett, Darren Yapi (Braian Galvan 82’), Kevin Cabral (Jonathan Lewis 64’)
Substitutes not used: Marko Ilic, Max, Steven Beitashour, Ralph Priso.
SHOTS: 6; SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 12; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 3
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH LUCHI GONZALEZ
On his takeaways from tonight’s match:
“Colorado defended well. Their system with an extra man in the back line was hard defensively to break down. Like you said, I thought we had good control of the game in terms of buildup and possession, and we had some good press after loss to regain possession and generate attack. We created some decent chances first half, but I don’t think that we were good enough in terms of putting shots on target or volume of crosses. I think that volume was a challenge in the first half, even though we had control, we needed to create more danger. But credit to Colorado, as they were dangerous in offensive transition. For the second half, we said look more of the same, let’s keep doing what we are doing but be more aggressive, and get more volume of crosses, get more shots. If there is no space to shoot in the box, then let’s get some shots top of the box and bring them out or have them apply pressure and we can try to combine through it. Colorado was hard to break down defensively and thankful that Cristian [Espinoza] got one through on a good play in defensive transition that got in under the post. Credit to the boys, I am proud of them, and again proud of the fans for a great home turn out to push us and give us energy. We want to give that back in terms of performance.”
On Cristian Espinoza’s influence tonight:
“I mean Cristian is a workhorse. You just see it every ball, every play, every second, and every inch matters to him. What a great leader in terms of intensity. And he trains this way, it is unbelievable. He is just a great player to coach and has a great mentality. Yes, he is very talented, obviously, but he makes that talent count because of his mentality to work hard and work for his teammates.”
On Carlos Akapo’s first start of the season:
“This was Carlos’s first start in eight or nine months, and he has been working hard to build fitness and build rhythm, and he earned that start. He has good competition with his teammates. We still need to keep building his fitness, his confidence, and his rhythm for him and the team. I am proud of him for being just a great teammate, working hard, and for showing a positive performance by getting up the field, getting crosses, and combining. I am also proud how he played defensively by being tenacious, winning physical duels, recovering, and defending the box. He will keep building learning about this league and helping and competing with this team.”
On Espinoza scoring while usually being known for assists:
“He is lethal with his right foot in terms of a cross or a shot. Can we get him opportunities to get more shots? That is something that we want to keep working on. Also with his left foot, he is good at cutting inside and scoring with his left as well. He showed that in preseason. We are really proud of him and a player that is relentless with his energy and his mentality, and then when he has a little bit of space and can get a shot or a cross in, we know he can create issues. We want to keep doing that. Any shot he takes and get on target, even if it is right at the goalkeeper, it is dangerous. It can be a rebound, it can knuckle, and even slip through, so we want to do that more often.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CRISTIAN ESPINOZA
On his two shots on goal:
“In the first one, the keeper did a great job because he touched it and then the ball hit the post. In the second one, we can see they dropped too much inside the box and they made like a line of five defenders inside the box. So sometimes we have to take those shots and in the second one with a little bit of luck it was a good one and we can see the outcome.”
On the challenges the Rapids’ formation caused:
“We would practice these kinds of plays in the preseason. Tried to find combinations in the wide areas. But when we can’t, like today, we had to find other ways to break the line. So today the way was shooting from distance. But we are always working on different situations when the other teams drop too much and they have very tight lines and we can combine between them. Today we had a great game in managing the ball side to side, we tried to move them. And after that, we tried to find the spaces between them. So, today I think was a very good game for us.”
On the team performance:
“We always try to find the free spaces to take that kind of shot, especially in front of the goal. Sometimes we can do it, and sometimes we can’t. But for that it’s very important that the team is committed to move the ball side to side and today I think that we had a great game.”