SAN JOSE, Calif.– San Jose Earthquakes forward Benji Kikanović and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski have been selected to Major League Soccer’s Team of the Week for Week 18 following the Earthquakes’ 2-1 home win against Chicago Fire FC on Sunday. Additionally, Kikanović was one of four finalists for the MLS Player of the Week honor.
Kikanović, 22, scored two goals to improve the Quakes’ home record to 4-0-1 under interim head coach Alex Covelo. At the end of a chaotic sequence that saw a diving save and two shots off the woodwork, Benji Kikanović scored a close-range finish in the 47th minute to give the home side the lead. Kikanović then doubled the Quakes’ lead with his second goal of the night by curling a left-footed shot just inside the far post in the 87th minute. His second goal of the night was the second game-winning goal of his MLS career. It marked the first multi-goal game of his MLS career.
Although Chicago pulled a goal back through Brian Gutierrez moments before the final whistle, JT Marcinkowski contributed to San Jose’s win with five saves during the match.
The Earthquakes have now had nine different players selected in TOTW recognitions so far this season: Francisco Calvo (Week 2), Cade Cowell (Week 5), Jeremy Ebobisse (Weeks 6,7, 11, and 14), Cristian Espinoza (Week 8), Benji Kikanović (Week 18), JT Marcinkowski (Week 10 and 18), Jamiro Monteiro (Week 12), Nathan (Week 10), and Jackson Yueill (Week 12).
MLS TEAM OF THE WEEK FOR WEEK 18
Forwards: Benji Kikanović (SJ), Taty Castellanos (NYC), Taxi Fountas (DC)
Midfielders: Emanuel Reynoso (MIN), Eryk Williamson (POR), Andres Cubas (VAN), Rayan Raveloson (LA)
Defenders: Jon Gallagher (ATX), Aaron Long (RBNY), Julian Araujo (LA)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake (PHI)
Coach: Greg Vanney (LA)
Bench: JT Marcinkowski (SJ), Damion Lowe (MIA), Sean Davis (NSH), Sebastian Driussi (ATX), Nicolas Lodeiro (SEA), Gustavo Bou (NE), Andre Shinyashiki (CLT)
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD BENJI KIKANOVIĆ (7/3)
On the team’s offensive performance last Sunday:
“I think offensively everyone played pretty well: Cristian [Espinoza], Jamiro [Monteiro], Jebo [Jeremy Ebobisse], myself, but I think they did a really good job finding me in pockets. We knew during the whole week that I was going to have space out wide, and I just tried to do my thing. I think they just found me in good areas. The first goal, I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time. It was crazy, it was like a FIFA goal, but I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to just tap it in. In the second one, I want to say Tommy [Thompson] played me in, but I’m not sure, I forgot. Then, I saw Cristian coming and I was actually going to whip it across because I had tried one earlier with my left foot and it didn’t work out, so I thought ‘let me take a shot.’ The keeper [Gabriel Slonina] had been making some good saves so I thought let me just try to put it hard and low because he’s a big dude so by the time he gets down it will be a little tougher, and it just went in. But I think for the most part we played really well, especially more so in the second half. We had chances in the first half, but we didn’t really put too many on target.”
On scoring his first two goals of the season:
“I just took more shots on goal, and they just went in. Usually, I feel like I don’t shoot too much, and I feel like that’s something that I need to improve on in my game. I just took my chances, and they went in. There’s not too much to it, but I think as a whole, everyone played together, especially them finding me. I think that also helped out. It’s always good when you get the ball a lot because I know that I can create things and make things happen going forward, not only for myself but for my teammates as well.”