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Vako, Quakes blitz Rapids, earn 3-1 victory

Entering Saturday’s clash, the Earthquakes had won seven out of their last eight home games.

The Rapids (5-5-12), had not lost in four straight road games. Something had to give. What let up was the visitors’ defense as the Quakes (11-4-7) cruised to a 3-1 win at Avaya Stadium.

Colorado began losing its grasp almost immediately. Just 73 seconds into the match, San Jose snatched the first goal, the fastest ever for the home team at Avaya Stadium.

From the right flank, full-back Tommy Thompson surged into the Colorado box, his run forcing the nearest defender to commit to him fully. From there the Rapids defender was toast as Thompson gently guided the ball to an overlapping Cristian Espinoza.

Near the goal, the ever-dangerous Espinoza fired in a low cross aimed for Chirs Wondolowski. The ball never made it to him, but luckily for San Jose, it bounced off Rapids center back Lalas Abubakar and into the net for an own-goal.

When asked how often they combine like that in practice, Thompson said:

“It’s constant, we do warm-up drills where we work on that because the combinations on the outside are so important. I’m happy that’s translated into the game.”

San Jose flexed its offensive firepower from there, firing shot after shot from long range towards the Colorado net.

The Quakes wouldn’t be held and it wasn’t long before scoring their own until around the half hour mark.

In the 33rd minute, Nick Lima shook off a defender and found himself with plenty of space on the left flank. All alone with time and space, Lima found Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili just outside of the box.

With the ball, Vako swerved his body three times shaking the defender just enough to get into a shooting position and doubled the lead by quickly firing off a low right-footed shot into the lower-left corner of the net, just past the desperate save attempt from Colorado keeper Clint Irwin.

Vako’s scorching form continued for the home side, with his sixth goal in the last seven games and eight of the season. The goal was also as good as anyone in the MLS will score this week.

head coach Matias Almeyda said:

“Vako is at a level I had hoped for that when I first got here, I had not found. When he has the ball at his feet he is a player that is capable of making a difference.”

San Jose registered one last goal late in the second half.

After receiving the pass, substitute Shea Salinas ran halfway up the fields left side. Salinas cut inside and continued his run across the box, passing every Colorado defender in his way. Once free and with the goal and keeper at his mercy, Salinas slotted home a cool shot into the lower right corner for the third and final goal of the night.

Of his goal, Salinas said:

“It was fun, I just kept doing some pump-fakes and space seemed to keep opening up, so I just kept going. Danny made a great run to draw the defender across so that freed me up a bit.”

Of the second-half game plan, Almeyda said:

“At halftime, I told them to have the mentality that we were still losing, because we had to go for more, and we went for more. We could have had even more goals.”

San Jose closed out the game defensively again, a hallmark feature under Almeyda this season but did allow a soft goal in the 88th minute.

Colorado midfielder Diego Rubio sprinted into the box and deflected a shot off a San Jose defender that managed just enough air to sail over keeper Daniel Vegas’ head but go under the bar for the consolation goal.

When asked if he was disappointed in losing the clean sheet, Almeyda said:

“No, in reality when they score a goal, it’s because of the opponent, and I respect the opponent. There are passages in this game I liked and some I didn’t. It lets me know that we have to keep on improving.” 

The loss tumbles Colorado into the basement of the Western Conference standings while San Jose moves up into a tie for third place depending on the final result of the Los Angeles Galaxy game.

Of the importance of the win, Thompson said:

Every game is important in this playoff push that we’re going to be having in the next couple months. We’re working as hard as ever, and I think it shows on the field, we’re not satisfied, we want more. Everyone in this locker room thinks that we can achieve a lot this year, and we still haven’t shown our best. I’m excited for what’s to come.”


San Jose will stay at home all week and welcome the visiting Columbus Crew to Avaya Stadium next Saturday, August 3rd.

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