SANTA CLARA, Calif. — As the game between the San Jose Earthquakes and the New England Revolution hung in the balance in the second half, Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made two decisions that would pay dividends in what turned out to be a 2-1 win for his team.
WATCH: FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
The Quakes had a couple of good chances in the first half, including a Khari Stephenson free kick that crashed onto the crossbar. But with their midfield play waning and the match tied 0-0 in the second frame, Yallop brought on rookie Anthony Ampaipitakwong in the 64th minute to man the right flank and inserted Ellis McLoughlin into the left side three minutes later. The spark the two 20-somethings brought proved vital, especially McLoughlin.
“We didn’t play well,” Yallop said postgame. “I thought we didn’t move the ball well. They possessed the ball better than us, especially in the first half. They outplayed us football-wise. I think we needed the thrust of someone like Ellis to make a difference and he did. I think him and [Ampaipitakwong] changed the game for us.”
Four minutes after coming onto the pitch in just his third appearance of the season, McLoughlin made a run into the box and laid out to nod home a Chris Wondolowski cross inside Revolution ‘keeper Matt Reis’ far post. It was San Jose’s first goal of the night and McLoughlin’s first of his MLS career.
That play, though, wouldn’t have happened without Ampaipitakwong, who connected with Wondolowski before the reigning Golden Boot champion launched the assist from the right corner.
“It was a good play by Amp and Wondo obviously played a great ball, a perfect ball,” McLoughlin said after the match. “I was just chilling behind [Steven Lenhart] and made a good run towards the near post. The defender followed [Lenhart] and left me wide open, so I just headed to the far post.”
While the play may have carried a little luck with it — “I do have to admit I was definitely going for Lenhart,” admitted Wondolowski — it helped San Jose loosen up and the home side eventually got a two-goal cushion in the 83rd minute when Bobby Convey curled in a stunning free kick from the edge of the box.
New England pulled one back in the 86th via Chris Tierney and the Revs proceeded to hound the Quakes in search of the equalizer.
“Things got a little hairy [after New England scored], but we saw it through and got our win,” said Yallop.
San Jose may not have played as well as they would’ve liked, but they got their second victory in a row — which also happens to be their second win in a row at Buck Shaw Stadium — and that, according to Yallop, is all that matters.
“Winning is obviously the most important thing, so three points tonight is very vital. I thought we deserved to win,” he said. “These games you have to win.”