Kikanovic scores first MLS goal, Nathan makes MLS debut
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The San Jose Earthquakes earned a 2-2 draw against Minnesota United FC on Saturday evening at Allianz Field. Minnesota entered the match on a six-game unbeaten run (4-0-2) in which they allowed two total goals.
Defender Nathan made his MLS debut, starting and playing all 90 minutes, while 21-year-old forward Benji Kikanovic scored the late equalizer, marking his first career MLS goal.
San Jose jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute when Cristian Espinoza dispossessed Bakaye Dibassy and sent a pass across the box to 17-year-old Cade Cowell for the close-range goal. It marked Cowell’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Minnesota found the equalizer on what would be the final touch of the first half when Brent Kallman snuck his left-footed shot just inside the near post from an acute angle. Minnesota would then take the lead in the 69th minute through Ramon Abila. After video review awarded Minnesota a penalty kick, Abila’s low shot was saved by Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski, but the rebound was put away.
The Earthquakes equalized in the 82nd minute. Kikanovic received a pass from Shea Salinas at the edge of the box, dribbled around his defender and sent a powerful shot past goalkeeper Tyler Miller.
The Earthquakes will now return to San Jose for a bye week before hitting the road again to face the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, July 17. The match kicks off from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park at 6:00 p.m. PT and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Bay Area, KNBR 1050 and 1370 KZSF.
The Earthquakes now hold a 3-7-2 record (11 pts.) during the 2021 MLS regular season and are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference.
The Quakes are now 4-3-1 all-time vs. Minnesota, including a 2-1-1 away record.
San Jose became the first team to score 2+ goals vs. Minnesota since May 8, snapping a streak of six matches with one or fewer conceded.
Cade Cowell scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season and fifth of his MLS career. He has now scored in each of the last two matches.
Cristian Espinoza tallied an assist on Cade Cowell’s goal, marking his third assist of the season and 25th of his MLS career. Espinoza is now in sole possession of 10th place on the team’s all-time assists leaderboard.
Forward Benji Kikanovic scored his first career MLS goal in his fourth career appearance.
Midfielder Shea Salinas tallied an assist on Benji Kikanovic’s goal, marking his second assist of the season and 53rd of his MLS career. It also marked his 50th assist with the Earthquakes, extending his club assists record.
Defender Nathan made his MLS debut, starting and playing 90 minutes.
Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski made his 12th start of the season, the most starts he’s made in a single season in his MLS career.
Cade Cowell (17 years and 263 days) and Benji Kikanovic (21 years and 179 days), the Earthquakes’ two goal-scorers tonight, have a combined age of 19 years and 226 days.
MLS Regular Season
Minnesota United FC 2 – 2 San Jose Earthquakes
July 3, 2021 – Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn.
Man of the Match: Benji Kikanovic
Scoring Summary: SJ – Cade Cowell (Cristian Espinoza) 15; MIN – Brent Kallman (Franco Fragapane) 45+4; MIN – Ramon Abila (unassisted) 69; SJ – Benji Kikanovic (Shea Salinas) 82.
Misconduct Summary: SJ – Eric Remedi (caution) 32; SJ – Cristian Espinoza (caution) 68; MIN – Bakaye Dibassy (caution) 85; MIN – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90+5; SJ – Paul Marie (caution) 90+5.
MINNESOTA UNITED FC: Tyler Miller; Bakaye Dibassy, Michael Boxall (Brent Kallman 29), Jukka Raitala, Chase Gasper; Franco Fragapane, Emanuel Reynoso, Niko Hansen (Ramon Abila 46), Wil Trapp (Jan Gregus 87), Hassani Dotson; Adrien Hunou (Osvaldo Alonso 74).
Substitutes not used: Juan Agudelo, Ethan Finlay, Jacori Hayes, Dayne St. Clair, DJ Taylor.
SHOTS: 18; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 14; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 1
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES: JT Marcinkowski, Oswaldo Alanis, Nathan, Tanner Beason (Benji Kikanovic 73); Eric Remedi, Jackson Yueill, Judson (Paul Marie 77), Shea Salinas, Cristian Espinoza (Siad Haji 73), Chofis (Andy Rios 55); Cade Cowell (Chris Wondolowski 55).
Substitutes not used: Jacob Akanyirige, Jack Skahan, Tommy Thompson, Daniel Vega.
SHOTS: 9; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 18; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 3
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES HEAD COACH MATIAS ALMEYDA:
On the impact from younger players on the team:
“I think as a young player, it’s not easy playing in these types of matches. I have always debuted young players, and there are moments for them to play, and moments when they don’t play. Today, we were forced to play them because that is our reality. It makes me happy to see them progress rapidly. When they have 50 appearances with the senior team, I think then they will be ready to execute what I ask from them.”
On the team’s formation:
“In reality, we are looking for solutions. We are doubling down on a bet because we are not getting results. Tonight, this match was heavily influenced by [Minnesota’s] height and aerial play. We executed a type of press that worked in our favor for 35 minutes. I thought Judson played well as a right back in the first half. I was honestly surprised. Tanner has experience in his position. We try to be secure in the back. Just because you set a defender in a certain position, that does not guarantee more security in the defense. I think Tanner performed well, same with Judson. Evidently, there are still things that need to be corrected. We had a good game but had a difficult opponent in Minnesota.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES FORWARD BENJI KIKANOVIC
On what instructions he received from Matias Almeyda:
“Yeah, we were actually down 2-1. He just told me to keep attacking, go forward, don’t try to play back, but keep it simple. Once I came in, I was just kind of waiting for my opportunity. Obviously, Shea [Salinas] was on the left and I just tucked in a little bit. He found me and I saw open space and was like, ‘Alright I’m going to take it. Either he’s going to foul me in the box and we’ll get a PK or I’m going to score,’ and I just happened to score.”
On tonight’s two goal-scorers both hailing from the Bay Area:
“Yeah, obviously me and Cade are always happy to get on the scoresheet but it’s not just about us. It’s more about the team. We can score, but at the end of the day, if we don’t get a result that we all like or are happy with, then none of that matters. It’s a good individual achievement but you don’t really play for individual achievements. It’s a team game, a team sport. I will say that we’re happy to be from the [Bay] area and we take pride in it but at the same time, like I said, it’s a team sport.”
SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES DEFENDER NATHAN
On his first match with the team and adjusting to a new league:
“Some ties can be a good thing. I think we should be pleased with the result on the road. I’m pleased with my performance, but I am not yet in sync with the team. Before these next few matches, I will work to improve and get better. I think I will be at 100 percent very soon.”
On his initial impressions of Major League Soccer:
“I like everything so far. It’s a great league. I think the league will continue to improve as the years go by. I have been present for two matches in MLS, and I think the stadiums and atmospheres have been very impressive. I really like it.”
On adapting to a new system of play:
“I just need to continue adapting. I have been training with the team for about a week. We still have plenty of work to do. We will use these next two weeks to improve, and I will try to adjust and fully adapt. We have to recognize when we are being pressured and being attacked. We will work on the small details, improve on our preparation, and make necessary corrections. We will accomplish that in training.”