San Jose started the 2019 campaign in a severe hole, losing their first four games of the season, including a 5-0 thrashing by LAFC at home in March.
Since then, the results have completely flipped.
Nick Lima scored Saturday night to help San Jose (3-5-2) record their fourth-straight game with at least one point, narrowly beating FC Cincinnati (2-7-2) by a score of 1-0 at Avaya Stadium.
On the result, head coach Matias Almeyda was proud of the way San Jose appeared to have turned their season around when he said:
“I felt proud of the team. After the first few games, I told them that my decision to come to San Jose was a good idea. I’m conscious that as time goes by we’ll be better every time.”
After Cincinnati’s Wednesday contest against Philadelphia, it was no surprise that the newest franchise in the MLS would be tired. San Jose had to come out on the front foot right away.
San Jose took the first chance of the game in the 12th minute. Jackson Yueill gained possession near the top of the box and shot a low dribbler that looked to trouble Cincinnati keeper Przemyslaw Tyton, before harmlessly swerving left of the goal.
The Quakes enjoyed 70 percent of the ball in the first half, but after an especially impressive display of sustained possession lasting nearly three minutes, San Jose finally picked the suspect lock that was the Cincinnati defense.
San Jose earned a corner and opted to play it short, trying their luck through the defense instead of over it. From the right flank winger, Cristian Espinoza received the pass and played the ball short to an open Lima. From just outside the box, Lima unleashed a low diagonal shot into the lower left corner of the goal for the only goal of the game.
On what he saw to the lead up to his goal, Lima said:
“A lot of guys marked on the back post and an open lane to shot. We do that practice every day, shooting from outside the box and today it paid off.”
The play was initially set for midfielder Magnus Eriksson according to coach Almeyda, but he made
Coach Almeyda said:
“The play was supposed to go a different way but sometimes the players invent and it goes well. The play was for Magnus, but Nick got in the way and it ended up excellent.”
The 1-0 scoreline was a disservice to San Jose’s domination of the half. Along with the substantial possession advantage, they outshot Cincinnati 9-2, including 6-0 on target, and had a 6-1 lead on corners.
Center back Florian Jungwirth said:
“We played excellent in the first half, we could have been up like two to nothing so we knew if we played our game we could still win it.”
In the second half, San Jose would make things harder for themselves by going down a man following a second yellow, and a subsequent red card for Cristian Espinoza, after taking down a streaking Mathieu Deplagne just outside of the box.
Coach Almeyda said:
“The truth is we never train with ten men so its something we have to learn to do. I think the players were good interpreters of Cincinnati’s modifications. A lot of times playing with one-man down shows character.”
The frenetic San Jose pace from the first half was nowhere to be seen as the game sloughed along following the ejection for both teams. San Jose looked like they just wanted to close the game out, and Cincinnati had very little left in the tank.
With just one minute left in regulation, Chris Wondolowski was brought on as the last San Jose substitute. Wondolowski ended last season one goal behind Landon Donovan as the all-time MLS goal list, and due to Danny Hoesen‘s form, he hasn’t had the chances to tie or break the record. He appeared to break free of the defenders on one occasion, but was called offside.
The end of the game played out with Cincinnati pumping long balls into the San Jose box but to no avail. The second half looked more like a controlled practice than an MLS match.
But Jungwirth still found the end of the game tough when he said:
“There were some points where it was really tough, especially near the end when they came with all their giant guys.”
With the result, San Jose has now secured points in four straight games including three consecutive home wins. A massive achievement considering the two significant ties on the road against The Seattle Sounders FC and FC Dallas all within four days.
San Jose will look to keep the momentum going when they hit the road against the New England Revolution, who sit in a three-way tie at the bottom in the Eastern Conference. The game kicks off Saturday, May 11 at 4:30 p.m.