- Post-Match Report
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It took three goals and some answered prayers from the soccer gods, but by the final whistle, the Quakes made it to the Promised Land of the MLS Cup playoffs. Forwards Danny Hoesen, Chris Wondolowski, and Marco Urena all scored to ensure a Quakes 3-2 victory versus the visiting Minnesota United. The win kept the Quakes above Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Securing the three points was not easy, as Minnesota was able to erase the Quakes’ lead twice over 80 minutes. Hoesen began the scoring on a breakaway at 15′. Minnesota’s first equalizer came on a Jerome Thiessen shot from outside the box to the far corner, beating Quakes ‘keeper Andrew Tarbell at 37′.
After the half, Wondolowski put the home side up via a brilliant through-ball from Hoesen at 55’. Fans could feel their thirst for playoffs–caused by four years of playoff drought–being quenched with each tick of the clock.
Almost on queue, and in what could have been the perfect microcosm of San Jose’s season, Hoesen was subbed off for the shorter forward Quincy Amarikwa at 81′, rather than for a defender, such as Andres Imperiale. The substitution was a disaster as Francisco Calvo scored the second equalizer of the match off a corner from Johan Venegas once play resumed, leaving most of Avaya Stadium breathless and flabbergasted. In an instant, clock ticks went from water drops on a parched playoff tongue to lemon juice on an open playoff wound.
With their backs to the wall, San Jose had 10 minutes to muster one more goal. Finally, in do-or-die stoppage time, the Quakes managed to rekindle the Goonie Time magic of 2012 as a Quincy Amarikwa shot was blocked by Minnesota ‘keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, but the rebound trickled across the net to Wondolowski. Wondo was able to play the ball back to a waiting Marco Urena for the tap-in game-winner at 90+3′.
34-year-old Wondo was a beast: seven shots, three shots on goal, two key passes, a goal, and an assist.
Quakes defensive mid Darwin Ceren played possessed: six tackles, 10 out of 10 duels won, two interceptions, three key passes, and six accurate long-balls while completing over 93% of his passes.
The goal will certainly go down as one of the most memorable in San Jose’s history as it opened the playoff door for the first time since that Goonie season of 2012. Now Quakes fans are wondering: could there be more Goonie magic in Quakes’ playoff future?
The Quakes will play Vancouver in BC Place on Wednesday night at 7:30pm. The winner will then play a home-and-away series versus the first-place Portland Timbers. There will be a viewing party for the game at the San Pedro Square Market.
33 games down, one to go in order to accomplish the goal that was begun in March: playoffs. The Quakes control their own destiny at home versus the expansion-side Minnesota United FC; a win guarantees their first post-season appearance since 2012. A loss or a draw could bounce the Quakes from the post-season. While not a “must win” game, the game should be treated as such today at Avaya.
Minnesota United have nothing to play for, except to play the role of playoff spoilers. The Loons began the season in dismal fashion, wracking up more than a few demoralizing defeats; the Quakes even managed one of their three road wins in Minnesota. However, the Loons rebounded to climb out of the basement and into eighth place overall in the West.
Minnesota will probably start a 4-4-2 that helped the Loons with a draw versus Sporting Kansas City a few weeks back: Bobby Shuttleworth in goal, and Francisco Calvo, Brent Kallman, Joseph Greenspan, and Jerome Thiesson on the back-line. In the midfield, Ethan Finlay and Miguel Ibarra will play on the wings with Ibson and Colin Martin playing centrally. At forward, Christian Ramirez and Abu Danladi should start.
The Quakes will probably keep the lineup that’s helped them net points in their previous two games: a four-man backfield of Kofi Sarkodie, Victor Bernardez, Flo Jungwirth, and Shea Salinas, combined with two defensive mids in Darwin Ceren and Anibal Godoy. Offensively, the Quakes will probably start Jahmir Hyka, Vako, and Chris Wondolowski on the attack with Danny Hoesen as the target forward.
The Quakes play well at home, while Minnesota is not the best road team. Minnesota also has a very suspect defense, so the Quakes should net more than one goal. If the Quakes defense can contain Ramirez, Finlay, and Ibarra (which they should), the Quakes should finish with a 2-1 victory and playoffs in their future.
Urena’s Game Winner
Special thanks, once again, to Jarisse Moore!