The San Jose Earthquakes defeated LAFC 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Nathan and Javier "Chofis" Lopez in Sunday's Western Conference clash at PayPal Park.
The Earthquakes earn their first victory at home since May 1st to move up to 10th in the West and come within two points of jumping over the playoff line. LAFC's unfortunate run of form continues, with Bob Bradley's side winless in their past five matches and struggling to find goals of their own.
The hosts found the back of the net and opened things up early after defender Nathan snuck a touch onto a Cristian Espinoza in-swinging free-kick in the 11th minute. It appeared that the goal was going to go to Espinoza, but upon Video Review, Nathan got the last touch, scoring his second goal of the season.
The home side's dominant attacking start continued, when Espinoza earned his second assist of the game. The Argentine found Lopez on top of the six yard box and the forward tapped home into the back of the net.
San Jose were made an unexpected substitution in the 37th minute when Luciano Abecasis was replaced by newly acquired striker Jeremy Ebobisse to make his club debut, with the former Portland Timbers forward getting a standing ovation as he entered the pitch.
LAFC weren't going away quietly though. A Carlos Vela set piece threatened the Quakes box and when Tristan Blackmon missed his attempted header, Jackson Yueill inadvertently headed the ball into his own net, giving LAFC a way back into the contest.
A slow start to the second half was punctured in the 63rd minute when LAFC midfielder Latif Blessing danced around the box and launched a shot on target, but Earthquakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski came up big, denying Blessing from close range.
Despite an action-packed first half that saw three goals on the board at the halftime whistle, each team struggled to find opportunities in the second half, even with a plethora of attacking substitutions coming off the bench.
- 11' - SJ - Nathan
- 28' - SJ - Javier Lopez
- 40' - LAFC - Jackson Yueill (OG)
- THE BIG PICTURE: For LAFC, this is a disappointing road result and their surprising run of form continues. They are now winless in their last five matches and are barely occupying a playoff spot as things stand. Bob Bradley needs to figure out what is going on with his side and they need to start finding results, both on the road and at home. For San Jose, this is a welcomed result. Many did not expect the Earthquakes to take all three points, but they started off the match on the front foot and never let go. Things are looking up for Almeyda's crew, who have now added a big money addition in Jeremy Ebobisse and are also finding results at home once again.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Marcinkowski save in the 63rd minute on Latif Blessing. If JT doesn't come up big in the moment, the game is level and who knows what happens then.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Cristian Espinoza. The midfielder assisted on both first half goals for the Earthquakes and played a crucial role in any attacking threat for the hosts.
- LAFC: Sunday, August 15 at Atlanta United | 1:00 pm PT (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)