Storybook ending! Shea Salinas scores in last San Jose Earthquakes home game

Shea Salinas

San Jose Earthquakes winger Shea Salinas couldn’t have written the script any better himself.

The 15-year MLS veteran announced Wednesday plans to retire after the 2022 MLS season, then in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Minnesota United FC he scored a deflected free kick in the 52nd minute.

It was Salinas’ second-to-last match in an Earthquakes uniform, his home send-off at PayPal Park after spending 13 seasons with the Bay Area club. In Salinas’ 375th MLS regular-season game, he wheeled off in trademark celebratory style after beating Minnesota goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, ripping off his jersey after the first direct free kick goal of his MLS career, per Opta.

The celebration prompted a yellow card, following his first regular-season goal since September 2020, but odds are Salinas won't mind one bit.

"I've loved playing in front of all of you," Salinas said postgame after grabbing a microphone on-field. "I wish I could do it for 15 more years, but I have to find something else to do. Thank you guys, I love you."

Salinas was then subbed off in the 64th minute for Benji Kikanovic, San Jose’s other goalscorer. He shared embraces with teammates and interim head coach Alex Covelo upon exiting, soaking in every moment.

The Earthquakes, one of the Western Conference’s first teams eliminated from Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs contention, will cap their season on Decision Day (Oct. 9) when visiting Seattle Sounders FC.

Their 36-year-old winger could get one last run-out, formally calling a wrap on an incredible MLS career that started when he was selected by San Jose in the second round of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft.

"The last 15 years have been an amazing blessing, it's been a gift," Salinas said. "It's been 15 years more than I ever expected to have."