SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes fell 4-3 to league-leaders Atlanta United FC Wednesday night at Avaya Stadium. The match was the first under Steve Ralston, who was elevated from assistant coach to interim head coach on Monday.
The Quakes took an early lead after Homegrown defender Nick Lima headed Shea Salinas’ cross into the back of the net in the 14th minute. Forward Danny Hoesen doubled the advantage in the 43rd, before Atlanta’s Hector Villalba scored in first-half stoppage time to make the score 2-1 at halftime.
Quakes midfielder Vako extended the Quakes’ lead to 3-1 in the 58th minute, dribbling through a host of Atlanta defenders and sending the ball straight into the bottom-left corner. The goal was his fourth in as many games and his 10th of the season. With Vako’s goal, the Quakes now have multiple double-digit goal-scorers in a single season for just the fourth time in club history (1996, 1997, 2012).
The Quakes thought they had extended their lead to 4-1 after forward Chris Wondolowski finished Anibal Godoy’s through ball in the 67th minute, but following a video review, the goal was overturned, and Atlanta was awarded a penalty kick for a previous hand ball. Atlanta forward Josef Martinez finished the penalty to make the score 3-2.
Miguel Almiron scored soon after and Martinez put Atlanta ahead five minutes into stoppage time to make the final score 4-3.
Homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made his MLS debut, becoming the third product of the Quakes’ youth academy to appear in a league match for San Jose. At 21-years-old, he was also the second youngest goalkeeper to ever start an MLS match for the Earthquakes (Andy Kirk – 20; 1998). He finished the match with four saves.
Four of the 11 players in San Jose’s starting lineup were 23 or younger, including defender Nick Lima (23), midfielders Luis Felipe (22) and Jackson Yueill (21), and goalkeeper Marcinkowski (21).
Ten-year-old Destinee Coronado served as the Quakes’ honorary captain for the match, kicking the ceremonial first goal and participating in the pregame coin toss. She also spent Tuesday morning at the team facility, later signing a one-day contract.
The Quakes now hit the road to take on LAFC at Banc of California Stadium, with kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. The nationally-televised matchup will be broadcast live on Univision, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.
MLS Regular Season
San Jose Earthquakes 3-4 Atlanta United FC
Sept. 19, 2018 – Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif.
Scoring Summary: SJ – Nick Lima (Shea Salinas) 13; SJ – Danny Hoesen (unassisted) 43; ATL – Hector Villalba (Julian Gressel) 45+3; SJ – Vako (Nick Lima) 58; ATL – Josef Martinez (penalty) 70; ATL – Miguel Almiron (unassisted) 73; ATL – Josef Martinez (Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco) 90+5.
Misconduct Summary: ATL – Francisco Escobar (caution) 8; ATL – Jeff Larentowicz (caution) 18; SJ – Shea Salinas (caution) 53.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Shea Salinas, Guram Kashia, Harold Cummings, Nick Lima; Anibal Godoy (Florian Jungwirth 83), Luis Felipe, Jackson Yueill (Tommy Thompson 76); Vako, Danny Hoesen (Chris Wondolowski 61), Magnus Eriksson.
SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON TARGET: 6; SAVES: 4; FOULS: 8; CORNER KICKS: 3; OFFSIDES: 3.
ATLANTA UNITED FC: Brad Guzan; Chris McCann, Franco Escobar (Kevin Kratz 70), Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Michael Parkhurst; Julian Gressel, Jeff Larentowicz (Ezequiel Barco 45), Eric Remedi; Miguel Almiron, Hector Villalba (Brandon Vazquez 87), Josef Martinez.
SHOTS: 19; SHOTS ON TARGET: 9; SAVES: 3; FOULS: 13; CORNER KICKS: 11; OFFSIDES: 2.
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES INTERIM HEAD COACH STEVE RALSTON
On the overturned goal:
“It’s tough because you’re up 4-1 for a moment, and then it’s 3-2 and it’s a totally different game. It was the turning point in the game and it is a hard one. I think it was the right call, I think it was a handball, but I don’t really know what a handball is anymore because it could have been a shout for one another way. I don’t know I would have to see it. It’s tough. I am proud of the group, and I feel really bad for them. They gave everything tonight, and to not get at least a point out of this game is really hard for them. I feel bad for them.”
On the team’s preparation despite the changes this week:
“It was short notice. I had the group basically yesterday, and then trying to play against a very good Atlanta team is not an easy one, and I thought our guys stood toe-to-toe with them for most of this game tonight. We showed that we can play with the best teams, and we just have to be able to do it consistently. It is going to be really hard to turn around and do it again on Saturday on short notice against a good team after an emotional game like that.”
On his first match as interim head coach:
“Right now, I am disappointed. It was a shock when it happened and a lot of different emotions if I’m honest. Nerves, excitement and not knowing what to expect. Like I said, to have to face this team on your first game with one day is not an easy one. No game is an easy one, but with the attackers that they have, it is always hard to prepare for that. I knew it was going to be difficult. We changed the formation, we gave some opportunities to some new players and I thought they did ok.”
On the goalkeeper change:
“There were a lot of discussions with Jyri Nieminen, the goalkeeper coach, and I. I felt that he deserved a chance. He’s been training really well, and also, I thought Andrew [Tarbell] could use a night off. I spoke to Andrew and I said, ‘Listen, you are a great goalkeeper, there is nothing wrong with ever having a night off to mentally have a break.’ He’s had a hard time and he’s had some difficult games and he’ll admit that. I think getting a night off is not a bad thing, no matter whether you’re a goalkeeper or any kind of player, when you are playing every game, sometimes you just need a little break.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI
On the decision to overturn the goal and award a penalty kick:
“Yeah, turning point. It’s always a tough moment, tough when the referee takes it in his hands. I understand the rules and the laws and how it goes, but to go back and then go back to a 50/50 play that could be called either way. And also then if you are going to call that, how is it not clear and obvious in the 90th minute?”
On what interim head coach Steve Ralston said pregame:
“I think that he sent us a good message. I think he’s a great coach, great person and commands the respect of the whole locker room. It’s a very difficult position for him to come in, but I think he stepped in and filled the shoes extremely well and to a man we all believe in him.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES GOALKEEPER JT MARCINKOWSKI
On making his MLS debut:
“Even though the result didn’t go our way, I was obviously excited to be out there with the guys. This is what I have been working for my entire life, coming up through the academy and all that stuff. Just to be out there and rep the club on the biggest stage was truly an honor.”
On what the team did well tonight:
“Obviously you look at the negatives and you try to learn from them, but at the end of the day, we had a lot of positives. They’re the best team in the league and we were toe-to-toe with them the entire game. Couple calls, couple slips here and there, and the result goes our way. Now all eyes on LAFC. Going to be a tough game down there, so just get the body recharged and get ready to go on Saturday.”
On whether he was nervous:
“To be honest, once you get out there, the butterflies kind of go away. I’ve been doing this my entire life so I feel the most natural on the field. Obviously, you’re a little nervous when you hear your name called and this and that, but I love being out there. That’s why I play and it’s a blast.”