SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes prevailed in a tough fought match on Tuesday night, defeating Sacramento Republic FC 6-5 on penalties at Avaya Stadium in the fourth round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The teams played to a 2-2 draw through regulation and extra time with Chris Wondolowski netting a pair of goals to erase a 2-0 deficit in regulation.
The Earthquakes made numerous changes to their regular MLS lineup, starting just two players that had started in at least half of their 14 MLS games to date – Wondolowski and defender Marvell Wynne. The match also had numerous roster highlights, including the return of Tommy Thompson from the U-20 FIFA World Cup, and the first appearances of forward Mike Fucito and goalkeeper Bryan Meredith since the start of the 2015 MLS regular season.
In the fifth minute, the referee pointed to the penalty spot after Republic FC defender Emrah Klimenta was taken down in the box by Quakes defender Shaun Francis. Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez stepped up to take it and drove a shot past Meredith to give the road team an early advantage.
San Jose nearly equalized with a chance in the 19th minute. Midfielder Leandro Barrera whipped in a cross from the left side of the pitch and forward Mark Sherrod out-jumped all defenders to get his head on the ball. The header was driven at the goal with pace, but narrowly missed high.
Three minutes into the second half, midfielder Jean Baptiste-Pierazzi delivered a well-placed free kick into the box, which bounced near the penalty spot. Wondolowski, making a darting run to goal, lunged for the ball, but couldn’t quite make contact.
Sacramento Republic FC extended their lead to 2-0 in the 54th minute. Midfielder Rodrigo Lopez sent a long pass onto the foot of Klimenta, who got behind the Quakes defense. He took a touch and slotted a shot past Meredith.
Wondolowski brought the home side within a goal in the 74th minute. Defender Victor Bernardez swung in a cross that was one-timed towards net by forward Mike Fucito. His shot was saved by keeper Patrick McLain, but the rebound was put back by Wondolowski.
Just five minutes later, Wondolowski leveled the score line. Wynne beat his defender down the line and curled a cross into the box. Wondolowski raced to the near post and headed the ball far post, beating keeper McLain once again. Since May 1, Wondolowski has now scored seven goals in eight games in all competitions.
Meredith made a spectacular save in the 83rd minute to keep the match level. Sacramento forward Justin Braun found himself with space in the penalty area and ripped a low shot, but Meredith lunged to his left and cleared the ball away.
With the scored tied 2-2, the clubs headed to overtime.
Meredith made his presence felt again in the 100th minute. Sacramento forward Adnan Gabeljic ripped a shot from the edge of the penalty area that was destined for the back of the net. However, Meredith dove to his left and punched the ball to safety.
With the game still knotted up at two goals apiece after overtime, the clubs went to penalty kicks. San Jose and Sacramento dueled through eight rounds, before Republic FC defender James Kiffe missed high, giving the Quakes a 6-5 victory. San Jose got penalty goals from Chris Wondolowski, Victor Bernardez, Tommy Thompson, JJ Koval, Leandro Barrera and Shaun Francis, while Meredith made two clutch saves, including a diving stop on Klimenta to keep San Jose alive.
The Earthquakes improved to 14-11 all-time in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, including a 3-3 record in shootouts. The draw for the Quakes opponent in the Round of 16 takes place on Thursday at 8 a.m. PT.
San Jose returns to Major League Soccer action on Saturday, June 20, when they travel to take on Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field, beginning at 1 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 1590 KLIV and 1370 KZSF.