SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Earthquakes defeated the Houston Dynamo 2-0 at Avaya Stadium on Wednesday night. The victory sees the Quakes surge from eighth place above the playoff line into sixth place. San Jose is 5-1-4 in their last 10 matches, second best in the Western Conference over that span (LAFC 6-1-3).
The shutout extends the Earthquakes' unbeaten streak to five (3-0-2) and home unbeaten streak to six (5-0-1). San Jose has outscored opponents 16-4 at Avaya Stadium since the start of April.
Midfielder Vako scored both of the Quakes' goals, giving him five goals in the last three matches, including U.S. Open Cup. Goalkeeper Daniel Vega and the team's defense earned their fourth shutout of the season and first since May 4.
The Earthquakes now turn their attention to the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium on Saturday night, presented by Sutter Health. The annual rivalry match against the LA Galaxy has drawn more than 50,000 fans every year since 2012 and features the Bay Area's largest fireworks show postgame. The match will be broadcast live on NBC Sports California Plus, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.
The Quakes are undefeated in five consecutive MLS matches (3-0-2), their longest unbeaten streak since July 16 - Aug. 12, 2016.
The last time San Jose was undefeated in five consecutive matches and earned at least three victories in that span was the final five matches of the 2013 season (4-0-1).
The Earthquakes are 5-1-4 in their last 10 matches. It marked the first time the club has lost no more than once in a 10-match span since the last 10 matches of the 2013 season (6-1-3).
The Earthquakes' 19 points earned in their last 10 matches ranks tied for fourth in all of Major League Soccer and second in the Western Conference (LAFC - 21).
Midfielder Vako tallied his second and third goals of the season, bringing his career total in MLS to 18. His first goal was also the eventual game-winner, his first of the season and second of his career. Vako has now scored five goals in his last three competitive matches.
Vako's brace against the Houston Dynamo marked his first multi-goal match in MLS play since the Earthquakes' 4-3 win over FC Dallas on Aug. 27, 2018.
Midfielder Cristian Espinoza was credited with an assist on Vako's first goal, giving him a team-best seven so far this season. It also marked his MLS-leading fourth game-winning assist of the season.
Midfielder Magnus Eriksson was also credited with an assist on Vako's first goal, bringing him to five assists this season and eight for his career. It marked his first game-winning assist of 2019.
San Jose picked up its first win against the Houston Dynamo since defeating the Texas side 1-0 on Sept. 16, 2017.
San Jose's 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo marked goalkeeper Daniel Vega's fourth shutout since joining the Earthquakes.
Gilbert Fuentes and Kevin Partida each made their 2019 debut for the Quakes. It marked Partida's first MLS action since suffering a knee injury in Portland last June.
MLS Regular Season
San Jose Earthquakes 2 - 0 Houston Dynamo
June 26, 2019 - Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif.
Scoring Summary: SJ - Vako (Magnus Eriksson) 23; SJ - Vako (unassisted) 75.
Misconduct Summary: HOU - Ronaldo Peña (caution) 17; HOU - A.J. Delagarza (caution) 57; SJ - Guram Kashia (caution) 77; HOU - Tommy McNamara (caution) 90+3.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: Daniel Vega; Marcos Lopez, Florian Jungwirth, Guram Kashia, Tommy Thompson; Judson, Jackson Yueill; Vako (Gilbert Fuentes 88), Magnus Eriksson, Cristian Espinoza; Chris Wondolowski (Kevin Partida 90).
SHOTS: 20; SHOTS ON TARGET: 6; SAVES: 1; FOULS: 8; CORNERS: 6;OFFSIDES: 0
HOUSTON DYNAMO: Joe Willis; Adam Lundkvist, Kevin Garcia, Aljaž Struna, A.J. Delagarza; Juan Cabezas; Tommy McNamara, Boniek Garcia, Matias Vera (Michael Salazar 74), Tomás Martínez (Romell Quioto 64); Ronaldo Peña (Mauro Manotas HT).
SHOTS: 6; SHOTS ON TARGET: 1; SAVES: 4; FOULS: 13; CORNERS: 4;OFFSIDES: 0
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MATIAS ALMEYDA
On Vako's performance throughout the season:
"Vako was playing at the start of the season, but I felt that there were players that were performing better than him. I communicated that to him, and the level that I want from Vako is the one we saw tonight. Sometimes it bothers the players to be taken out, which is normal, but I think that's one way to create competition and bring the best out from everybody. He played a great game tonight and is playing well overall. In Vako, I want a player that is reversible. He'll play not only when he receives the ball, but also to assist his teammates when it comes time to defend. He can do that; it's proven that he can, and he will keep doing that."
On the possible factors that affected team's performance in previous matches:
"I think the team became used to a different system of play in which they played totally different. I'm not saying it's better or worse, but it was very different. Positions for the players were different. I think after putting in some work, the team is understanding what we are asking from them."
On how the match was played out:
"We have players that are injured, others playing with their national teams, and everyone who has been playing has been taking advantage of the opportunity. The system remains the same even when we change players, and that's what our game is all about. I think we played a great match against a difficult opponent that had previously defeated us. Tonight, we were better than them in every aspect."
On his assessment of season so far:
"I think the team is growing a lot. We are trying to instill commonality within the players. For me, the way they communicate, their work ethic and unity are fundamental. In my first meeting with the them, I said I wanted a team, not individuals, in which everyone put in their own grain of sand. We are achieving that. It makes me happy when every time something happens to one of our players, like Wondo's [Chris Wondolowski] call-up to the MLS All-Star Game, which is well deserved."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOALKEEPER DANIEL VEGA
On the team's performance:
"We prepare the same way for every game. We trust in our play and our players. We knew that they were down a few players, two or three very important players, but I think it's more important how we played. If we keep playing this way, the way we played today, it's difficult to beat us. We talked about what we had to do. Today was an important game. We prepared to face Houston, we didn't let them play and that's our way to play."
On the team's unity:
"It's part of the union, we have to be together. Three points is the best thing you can get in soccer. It's a sport where you have to be together; there's no other way to win games. Today we had Vako playing an amazing game, but we helped him to be amazing today. That is part of soccer. We don't win games because of the individuals. We have to be together if we want to win big things. That is what's most important and is the most important thing. The coaches have tried to teach us that we have to be together, that's the only way."
On his clean sheet:
"Sometimes it's good for the goalkeeper not to concede goals, but for me what's important are the three points. Sometimes when you don't concede goals and you don't win it feels different. But today the most important thing is the points. We need points, we are building something important. The most important thing also is the way we are playing, and we have to keep playing the same way. Now I am happy that I didn't concede any goals, but for me I don't care about conceding goals. I'm a winner, I like to win games, I want three points."
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
On making the All-Star Game and the team's play right now
"Very honored. It's a great honor to be an All-Star, a lot of credit to my teammates though. They've helped push me through sometimes and they've given me some great goals as well, so I really appreciate them and it's pretty cool that I get to represent the Earthquakes. It's a very prestigious event, playing Atletico Madrid. I'm honored."
On the team's development:
"I think we've taken a lot of steps in the right direction and really grown that belief. It's a funny thing, confidence. We bought into coach Matias' game plan and when you execute it in the right way, it's very effective. We were on some shaky ground the first couple games and weren't all on the same page and got exposed. But when you have all 11 guys playing the way that we need to and executing the game plan, it's very fun."
On Vako's performance in the 2-0 win over Houston:
"Excellent. I thought Vako was excellent. I'm proud of him. I think that he, along with all of us, got off to a rough start. It would've been very easy for him just to throw in the towel, to not care, but he was opposite. He's now bought in, and as you saw tonight, he's a great player. The first goal - that flick around him was excellent. It was unreal. But also, just all throughout the game, he was a handful. He always is a handful and it was great to see. I'm glad to see him get his reward."
On controlling the possession despite being down two defenders:
"Well one, the guys that stepped in are amazing guys. We have Guram Kashia and Flo Jungwirth at center backs, and Nick Lima and Tommy [Thompson] who have been playing well as well. And we're missing Anibal Godoy, but we have Judson coming and stepping right in. For us, it's next man up. We feel we have a very deep team and we're able to step up no matter what, but a lot of credit to Matias [Almeyda] again. The way that we were planning on pressing them worked out very well. It worked out right into our hands and it kind of stifled them and took away a lot of their play. I think it also helped some of our key characteristics and it was a great game plan."
On momentum off a win heading into Saturday's showdown with the Galaxy:
"Your body always ends up feeling a little bit better after a win for some reason, but to be fair, I have gotten the ice bath which is a rare occurrence for me. It's very cold there. Not necessarily a fan. Those are the steps we need to take. We have a lot of games coming up. It's nice though we have a couple guys I think that are going to be getting healthy very soon and some key guys as well, so it's going to be nice to get those guys back in the fold, but now all of our focus is on Saturday. We want to beat LA. We want to win. It's always a big game, it's a big rivalry game, but also we just want to stay above that red line right now. It's a nice place there and we don't want to look back anymore."