The San Jose Earthquakes punished LAFC for a pair of failed clearances, scoring early in each half en route to a 2-0 victory over their California rivals at PayPal Park Saturday night.
In a battle of squads trying to push above the playoff line in the Western Conference, San Jose are now level on points with LAFC following a second consecutive win, three points behind seventh-place Real Salt Lake.
The Earthquakes capitalized on a defensive miscue to take the lead just three minutes after the opening kickoff with Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez intercepting a poor attempted headed clearance by Mamadou Fall of a Quakes long ball before playing Benji Kikanovic into the box. The San Jose native rounded LAFC goalkeeper Tomás Romero before slipping the ball into the open net.
Just two minutes into the second half, the Quakes doubled their lead. Marcos Lopez received the ball back after his initial service was deflected, but not cleared by three different LAFC defenders, and finding an open Chofis in the box, who continued his hot form with 11th goal of the season sixth in the last three matches.
Eric Remedi was inches from making it 3-0, heading a Marcos Lopez cross off the post in the 55th minute. Two minutes later, LAFC had their first good chance as Cristian Arango delicately headed a ball into the path of Danny Musovski, but he put his attempt off the side netting.
Bob Bradley made four changes just before the hour mark, looking to create a spark for the final 30 minutes. One of those who entered was Raheem Edwards, who beat JT Marcinkowski to a ball in the box, but hit the crossbar with his shot in the 69th minute.
- 3’ — SJ — Benji Kikanovic
- 47’ — SJ — Chofis Lopez
- THE BIG PICTURE: Oh how the Western Conference is turning. Just when it appeared LAFC were a lock to move into a playoff spot following three consecutive wins, it’s now back-to-back defeats and an all-around poor showing against fellow postseason chasers San Jose. Conversely, Chofis is trying to carry the Quakes into the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs on his shoulders following consecutive wins.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The goal by Chofis gave the hosts some breathing room. And he got a big assist from porous defending by LAFC.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Chofis for Newcomer of the Year? The Mexican attacker remains one of the league’s hottest players, scoring two minutes into the second half after helping set up Kikanovic’s opening goal. His joy, and confidence, was evident with every touch of the ball.
- LAFC: Wednesday, Sept. 29 vs Portland Timbers | 7:30 pm PT | Bally Sports SoCal, Estrella TV