It was a tale of two halves, as Austin FC strode out to a 3-1 lead just before halftime, but the San Jose Earthquakes rebounded with three second-half goals – two of them from Eduardo "Chofis" Lopez – to triumph 4-3 at Q2 Stadium on Saturday night.

Moussa Djitte got his first start in Verde, and got in on positive action early, starting a scoring sequence in the sixth minute by heading in an Alex Ring would-be assist. Though JT Marcinkowski parried that away, Sebastian Driussi was right behind Djitte to slot in the loose ball for the opener.

The Quakes, with head coach Matias Almeyda absent through a one-match suspension, came back 11 minutes later on a corner kick. Carlos Fierro found Marcos Lopez's head to draw level, and San Jose looked more likely to get the go-ahead goal following the equalizer.

But then Austin got out on a break and put together some nice combos, leading to Ring finding Jon Gallagher at the far post for a 35th-minute goal to conclude an eye-catching move. Then Ring got his own shot off in the 45th minute, firing from beyond the 18 for his fourth goal of the year to extend the home lead to 3-1.

The Quakes got some momentum back shortly after halftime, though, with Cristian Espinoza led in on goal in the 49th minute via a Benjamin Kikanovic pass before taking Brad Stuver on and firing past the Austin 'keeper.

The Quakes continued to pile on the pressure in search of an equalizer and got it thanks to a 55th-minute Ring handball. Though the ball hit Ring's knee before bouncing up onto his hand, Video Review confirmed the penalty shout, and Chofis did just enough to get it past Stuver to level things up once move. The game then got chippy, with Stuver and Espinoza getting yellows after a tussle that started when the Quakes looked to pull the ball out of the back of the net to quickly return it to the center circle.

Chofis then struck for his second in the 63rd minute, delivering San Jose their first lead of the night. He was blocked by Stuver on his first attempt but knocked the parried ball back in when it fell to him to make it five goals in two games for the on-loan Chivas attacker.

Austin's night continued to get worse when Ring got tagged with his second yellow in just seven minutes on an overeager tackle, reducing the hosts to 10 men. Austin kept pushing for the equalizer, getting close on a couple of set-piece headers, but even with nine minutes of stoppage time in which Verde went "all gas, no brakes," San Jose held on for the win.

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Goals

  • 6' — ATX — Sebastian Driussi | WATCH
  • 17' — SJ — Marcos Lopez | WATCH
  • 35' — ATX — Jon Gallagher | WATCH
  • 45' — ATX — Alex Ring | WATCH
  • 49' — SJ — Cristian Espinoza | WATCH
  • 58' — SJ — Eduardo Lopez (PK) | WATCH
  • 63' — SJ — Eduardo Lopez | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: San Jose kept themselves in Audi MLS Cup Playoffs contention with a character-building win, and if they manage to finish in the Western Conference’s top seven places, they’ll likely look back on this as a key three points along the way. For Austin, Djitte looked promising before being replaced at halftime – possibly related to leg issues that troubled him late in the first half – and the entire team looked better for having a big target man in the middle. Still, it was ultimately a new way for Verde to lose, making it 11 defeats in their last 13 games.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The pivotal moment was Ring's handball, which opened the door to the PK equalizer.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Ring was in contention with his first-half performance, but then Chofis recorded a decisive brace to spin the match around entirely.

Next Up

  • ATX: Sunday, Sept. 26 vs. LA Galaxy | 9:30 pm ET (ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes) | MLS regular season
  • SJ: Saturday, Sept. 25 vs. LAFC | 10 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+) | MLS regular season

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