RECAP: Akanyirige makes MLS debut in 1-1 draw against Portland

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Earthquakes earned a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers on Wednesday evening at Earthquakes Stadium. Eighteen-year-old Homegrown defender Jacob Akanyirige made his MLS debut, starting and playing 69 minutes, while Vako scored his third goal of the season.

San Jose dominated possession from the kickoff, ultimately holding 64% possession and completing 217 more passes than their opponent. However, Portland would get the board first in the 34th minute when Yimmi Chara chipped his shot up and over Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, who was making his first appearance since October 2018.

The Earthquakes took 19 shots, but narrowly missed on a handful of occasions, even seeing one of Vako's eight attempts striking the post. San Jose ultimately found their equalizer in the 76th minute when Chris Wondolowski headed the ball through traffic to Vako, who cleverly dribbled around the goalkeeper and equalized. 

The Earthquakes will remain in San Jose to prepare for a second consecutive home match vs. the Portland Timbers on Saturday, Sept. 19, presented Wells Fargo. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and the match will be broadcast NBC Sports California, KNBR 680 and 1370 KZSF.


San Jose now holds a 2-4-5 record in the 2020 regular season.

The Quakes now hold a 4-1-1 record in their last five home matches against the Timbers.

Vako scored his third goal of the season and 26th of his MLS career.

Chris Wondolowski tallied the assist on Vako's goal, his first assist of the season and 42nd of his MLS career.

Eighteen-year-old Homegrown defender Jacob Akanyirige made his MLS debut, starting and playing 69 minutes.

Homegrown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made his first appearance of the season, starting and playing 90 minutes. It marked his first MLS appearance since Oct. 28, 2018.

The Quakes are now undefeated in their last three matches at Earthquakes Stadium this season and have only been defeated at home once in five contests.


MLS Regular Season

San Jose Earthquakes 1 - 1 Portland Timbers

Sept. 16, 2020 - Earthquakes Stadium in San Jose, Calif.

Scoring Summary: POR - Yimmi Chara (Diego Chara) 34; SJ - Vako (Chris Wondolowski) 76.

Misconduct Summary: SJ - Florian Jungwirth (caution) 23; POR - Dario Zuparic (caution) 84; POR - Christian Paredes (caution) 85; SJ - Jackson Yueill (caution) 90+1.

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Marcos Lopez, Oswaldo Alanis (Tommy Thompson 45), Jacob Akanyirige (Chris Wondolowski 69), Paul Marie (Shea Salinas 45); Florian Jungwirth, Judson, Jackson Yueill, Vako, Cristian Espinoza (Carlos Fierro 69); Andy Rios (Cade Cowell 69).

Substitutes not used: Tanner Beason, Eric Calvillo, Luis Felipe, Daniel Vega.



PORTLAND TIMBERS: Steve Clark; Dario Zuparic, Bill Tuiloma, Pablo Bonilla, Marco Farfan; Andy Polo, Diego Chara, Yimmi Chara (Marvin Loria 64), Eryk Williamson (Cristhian Paredes 64); Felipe Mora (Jeremy Ebobisse 64), Jaroslaw Niezgoda (Tomas Conechny 81).

Substitutes not used: Julio Cascante, Aljaz Ivacic, Diego Valeri, Jorge Villafana, Renzo Zambrano.




On tonight's match:

"I believe the players adapted well to our system tonight on the field. I will say again, when you have time to train, you can practice in many areas of a game plan. But when you cannot train, you can't. The interpretation from the players has been really important, their concentration, and execution because most of the planning is done in drawing. They haven't really trained. But in these last two games, we really have had resistance, love for the game, and we have to keep going."

On defender Marcos Lopez's performance on the past few games:

"Realistically, it's not just Marcos, but all the guys who haven't played much. When we arrived in Orlando, he was in good form. But unfortunately, he needed to get surgery for appendicitis. For that reason, we weren't able to play him in the games that we played [in Orlando]. I think the year of adaption went very well for him. He's a youngster alone in another country who wasn't able to bring his family along for different reasons. Those of us who play football in different places, being with family is always important. Today, he is a lot more adapted, both in his personal life and as a professional athlete because of the teammates that he has. In the sporting aspect, he is growing. That's the idea for the youngsters, to grow."

On defender Florian Jungwirth playing in the midfield:

"We have tried to adapt players who are better physically than others. After we conceded seven goals, we had to reinforce our defensive line. I think Florian has adapted well in that midfield position. Playing this many games, players are prone to injury. Not just for us but for many teams. There's little recovery time, little time to train, and the fitness wears off. Today, Florian played one half in that position and then in the second half he went back to the center back position."

On playing Portland on Saturday:

"In the past two games, we have played our game. Unfortunately, it doesn't reflect in the final result. I think we were missing the relentlessness that the other team had when they countered and scored the goal. We always need as many chances [as possible] to be able to score. We will insist with our game, especially with those we can count on. As I mentioned before, it is difficult because we have little time to train. It's difficult for all of us because tomorrow they rest, the day after tomorrow they are sore, and then the day after that we play again. We are using a lot of young players and taking advantage of this time to take a good look at them."



On his mindset going into his first start in two years:

"I think what was going through my head was hoping to help the team win. I think that's what all of us try to do. We try to go out there and perform our best. At the end of the day, we're trying to get three points. It was nice to be back out there of course, but a little unlucky to not get all three tonight. Secondly, with the save, I think it's just one of those things where time slows down, and you just try to make the save. It wasn't anything too spectacular I don't think. It was kind of down to my right, but, yeah, at the end of the day I'm just trying to help the team get three points. It kind of leaves a little bit of a sour taste in your mouth, but it was great to be back out there."

On the performance of the other younger players tonight, including Jacob Akanyirige:

"A huge shoutout to Jacob [Akanyirige]. I think it was his debut start. He played really well for 70 minutes. He looked like he belonged. He looked like what we see in training every single day. I was trying to give him confidence and do the best I can back there."

On the adjustments the team made after defender Oswaldo Alanis' injury:

"I think it's a testament to Flo's [Florian Jungwirth] professionalism that he can switch back and forth between positions mid-match and his level doesn't drop. He can play number six. He can play center back. You could put him anywhere on the field, and I think he would play really well. It was tough to lose Oswaldo [Alanís], but hopefully he can get better and it's nothing too serious. I think for me personally, it's just trying to communicate as much as I can back there and be loud and be heard by my teammates. I just really try to be the voice in the back, and make sure they can keep going and keep playing hard. At the end of the day, it's up to them, and I just try to do my part."



On his current form after playing all matches thus far:

"I feel good. Sometimes it's difficult with so many matches and short turnarounds. But as long as everyone is feeling good, and Matias [Almeyda] wants to count on me [to play], he knows that he has me in his consideration for every game and I will always be ready to play each time."

On playing alongside defenders Tommy Thompson and Paul Marie:

"Both are great players and teammates. During the week, we train different combinations. If we continue to train in the same way and improving each time, then we'll have better chances to damage the opponent."

On potentially changing positions:

"Yes, we have talked about it several times. Today, I seem to be placed on the left side more due to circumstances of the game, or because of a tactical decision from Matias. But he knows that he can also count on me on the right side. But regardless, I feel comfortable on either side."


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