MATCH RECAP: Earthquakes 2, LAFC 0

Reigning MLS Player of the Week Chofis tallies one goal and one assist

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San Jose Earthquakes defeated Los Angeles Football Club 2-0 on Saturday night at PayPal Park. The Quakes are now 5-2-4 in their last 11 matches and are just three points below the playoff line in the Western Conference. San Jose also extended their winning streak vs. LAFC to four matches.

The Quakes jumped out to an early lead in the third minute. Chofis, the reigning MLS Player of the Week, played a through ball past multiple defenders to Benji Kikanovic, who dribbled around the goalkeeper before passing the ball into the empty net.

San Jose then doubled their lead in the 47th minute. Marcos Lopez played a pass across the front of goal and Chofis first timed his shot past goalkeeper Tomas Romero. Chofis has now tallied six goals and an assist in the last three matches.

Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made three saves in the shutout. It marked his fourth shutout of the season and second shutout victory.

The Earthquakes will remain in San Jose to host Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday, Sept. 29, presented by Intermedia. Wednesday marks the Quakes’ annual College Night and will kick off from PayPal Park at 7:30 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus, KNBR 1050 and KZSF 1370.

 

GAME NOTES

The Earthquakes now hold an 8-9-9 record (33 pts.) during the 2021 MLS regular season and are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference, just three points below the playoff line.

The Quakes extended their winning streak against LAFC to four. San Jose is now 4-5-0 all-time vs. LAFC, including a 3-2-0 record at home.

San Jose earned their second shutout victory of the season and first since July 31 (1-0 vs. SEA). Tonight’s win was also the first at PayPal Park since Aug. 8 against LAFC (W 2-1). It marked the Quakes’ first shutout victory by multiple goals since Oct. 28, 2020 vs. RSL (2-0).

Midfielder Chofis scored his team-leading 11th goal of the season and 11th of his MLS career. He has now scored six goals in the last three matches and is the league’s leading scorer during the month of September (6). He has also scored in consecutive matches vs. LAFC. Additionally, Chofis tallied an assist on Kikanovic’s goal, marking his third assist of the season and first game-winning assist.

Chofis became the first Earthquakes player to score in three straight matches since Vako in July 2019.

Rookie forward Benji Kikanovic scored his second goal of the season and of his MLS career. He has now tallied one goal and one assist in the last two matches.

Defender Marcos Lopez tallied an assist on Chofis’ goal, marking his first assist of the season and fourth of his MLS career.

Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski secured his fourth shutout of the season and ninth of his MLS career.

Midfielder Shea Salinas entered the match as a substitute in the 82nd minute, marking his first appearance since Sept. 4 against the Colorado Rapids.

MATCH INFORMATION

MLS Regular Season

San Jose Earthquakes 2 – 0 Los Angeles Football Club

Sept. 25, 2021 – PayPal Park in San Jose, Calif.

Attendance: 16,927

Man of the Match: Chofis

Scoring Summary:

SJ (1-0) – Benji Kikanovic (Chofis) 3′

SJ (2-0) – Chofis (Marcos Lopez) 47′

Misconduct Summary:

SJ – Nathan (caution) 31′

SJ – Cristian Espinoza (caution) 34′

LAFC – Danny Crisostomo (caution) 39′

SJ – Luciano Abecasis (caution) 64′

LAFC – Jose Cifuentes (caution) 75′

SJ – Marcos Lopez (caution) 86′

LAFC – Raheem Edwards (caution) 90+5′

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski; Marcos Lopez (Cade Cowell 88), Nathan, Oswaldo Alanis, Luciano Abecasis; Eric Remedi, Judson; Chofis (Shea Salinas 82), Jackson Yueill, Cristian Espinoza (Tommy Thompson 76); Benji Kikanovic (Chris Wondolowski 88).

Substitutes not used: Carlos Fierro, Paul Marie, Andy Rios, Jack Skahan, Daniel Vega.

SHOTS: 7; SHOTS ON GOAL: 2; FOULS: 17; CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 3

LAFC: Tomas Romero, Mamadou Fall, Diego Palacios (Raheem Edwards 59), Sebastien Ibeagha (Marco Farfan 58), Moon-Hwan Kim (Latif Blessing 59), Jesus Murillo, Francisco Ginella, Jose Cifuentes, Daniel Crisostomo, Danny Musovski (Bryce Duke 59), Cristian Arango.

Substitutes not used: Jamal Blackmon, Jordan Harvey, Pablo Sisniega.

SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 21; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 0

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MATIAS ALMEYDA

On his tactics in tonight’s match:

“I think we played a really intelligent game. We planned for this type of game against the formation that the opponent has been using. The players understood and responded well to the formation change we made.”

On Benji Kikanovic’s contributions and his growth:

“I think Benji is one of the young players that is learning day-by-day. He has perfectly understood the identity we want the players to have at San Jose. He is a player with pace, he is good in the aerial game and has great technique. He really works a lot for the team. He was able to put away the chance that came from a great pass from Chofis. He also worked hard in the defensive phase. I am really pleased when the young players perform well. It makes me happy for them and for the club.”

On his conversations with the players about playoffs:

“For us, as long as the math is there, we will try to be competitive, and we will compete until the end. They know the mentality I try to transmit to them. Sometimes we see that reflected, other times we are missing a bit, but we are generally happy with it.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES MIDFIELDER JACKSON YUEILL

On the team’s formation and how it impacted the match:

“These last 10 games here, we know that we need to get wins, and wins at home in particular and part of that is being able to control the ball and how we press. Having Eric [Remedi], Judson and myself in the midfield really helps the team a lot. It’s important to try and fit everyone in there, and fit Chofis in there in his natural position as the number 10 and get him the ball as much as possible. I think it was a little bit of what LAFC showed and trying to work against them and finding the right spots to get Chofis on the ball and finding the right passes in behind. As you saw on the first goal, he was able to do that. The plan was to get him on the ball in central locations and try to work around him and try to eliminate LAFC’s quality as well. That was the reasoning for that, and I think it worked out well today.”

On the team’s form in the upcoming stretch run:

“I think there are still a lot of games left. It’s still really close and these two games were important for us. We’ve narrowed down to the last third of the season. We learned from our first year to last year of when to push and when to hit our stride. We hit a really good stride last year going into the playoffs and that helped us a lot. I think the team is in a really good spot. Collectively, as a group, how we’re interacting, the motivation and dialogue in the locker room is really positive and great and it showed tonight that the guys have a desire to win. Even though it’s going to be close up until the end, the guys have the desire to push for the playoffs and try to get up in the table as high as we can and play as best as we can.”

SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD BENJI KIKANOVIC

On the goal and his run:

“I knew it right as Chofis got the ball. All three of the defenders looked at him and I was like, ‘I’m going to run in behind them.’ I know Chofis is good enough to play me the ball on time and play me a good-weighted ball and I just went. He played it on time, and I took a touch past the goalkeeper and just put it away. It was a great ball by Chofis and there’s not much to it.”

On his previous comments about wanting to be more involved:

“I thought I did better than last game. I think each game, as long I’m improving, it’s good for me and good for the team. Obviously, it wasn’t the best, but it is what it is and we got the win and we’re just going to keep on going. I think the more that I play and as I get more minutes under my belt, I should be alright. But I think tonight was much better than last game. It’s an improvement but it’s not good enough.”