Inspired midfielder Shea Salinas played a part in all three goals in the Earthquakes' exhilarating, 3-2, come-from-behind win over the L.A. Galaxy in the California Clasico at Stanford Stadium on June 29.
It was a "Shea Hey" kind of a night for the durable and lightning-quick native of Lubbock, TX. The 150-pound Salinas was also dangerous in a 1-0 loss to D.C. United at RFK Stadium on June 22.
"He has been great!" goalkeeper Jon Busch said of Salinas.
The team's igniter in the Clasico, Salinas, 27, assisted Alan Gordon in the 68th minute to cut the Quakes' deficit to 2-1, scored his first goal since March 2012 to tie it in the 92nd minute, and then dished to Sam Cronin, who deftly chipped to Gordon for the winner in the 93rd minute.
Salinas also ripped a shot off the side-netting in the first half to wake up the crowd and answer some of the dynamic attacking of the Galaxy's Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane.
Making the Quakes' heroics at sold-out Stanford Stadium even more impressive was the fact that they played the final 13 minutes a man down after Victor Bernardez's ejection for a second yellow card.
"The fans tonight were unbelievable," Salinas said in the emotional aftermath. "That was the loudest game I have ever played in my life. I just kept looking around the stadium, just trying to soak it all up. It was crazy. Every fan was on their feet at the end; it was so fun to play in. I wish we played in front of 50,000 every night."
On the winning goal, Marvin Chavez started the counter-attack and passed to Salinas, who found Cronin, who weighed two choices before finding Gordon for the game-winner.
"My first thought after Shea left that ball off to me was to shoot, but my first touch was left a little underneath me, so I looked up and saw the big guys at the far post," Cronin said." I just wanted to give them a chance; it was a good decision, I'd say."
Salinas applauded the unsung heroes in the back.
"Our defense stepped up and played great," Salinas said. "They stopped counterattack after counterattack. It allowed me to finish a goal."
On Salinas' game-tying strike, Justin Morrow sent a long throw into the box, where Adam Jahn redirected the pass toward goal. The ball deflected off Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza and then off goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, before Salinas pounced with the close-in finish.
Salinas used his full bag of tricks throughout the Clasico. Endurance has long been his forte. At Grapevine High School in Texas, he was district champion in the mile and 5 kilometer run. He was also the soccer team's District MVP and captain. At Furman, he was an NSCAA third-team All-American and a first-team Scholar All-American.
Now in his sixth MLS season, Salinas was a comeback story in last year's run to the MLS Supporters' Shield. After suffering a broken left clavicle in a tussle with the New York Red Bulls' Rafa Marquez on April 14, he had surgery on April 18. He did not return until entering as a substitute on June 20 in Colorado. Salinas made his 50th career start last July 28 against Chicago.
Now he's looking to do more damage on the road, July 3 at Chicago and July 6 at New England.
"We have to carry this momentum into the second half of the season," he said. "Coming into the (Clasico), we knew what it meant to the team and even the entire organization. Now, going into this road trip, we have to build off this game and get six points."