Fleet-footed winger Alberto Quintero shines with assist in San Jose Earthquakes debut

SAN JOSE, Calif. – For all the talk about Alberto Quintero’s speed after his signing with the San Jose Earthquakes, it was his soft touch that led to his first MLS assist – and the Quakes’ first win with the Panamanian international on board.

Seconds into the second half, Quintero took a square pass Quincy Amarikwa, then deftly looped the ball over the top of 6-foot-7 Colorado center back Axel Sjoberg, giving Chris Wondolowski the opportunity to bounce his free header out of the reach of Rapids goalkeeper Zac MacMath. That proved to be the only goal in San Jose’s 1-0 season-opening victory.

“It was nice touch on the ball by Alberto,” Quakes coach Dominic Kinnear said. “It’s good that his first game is marked with something on the scoreboard.”

Said Quintero, through a team translator: “You work on things like that during the week. Quincy got me the ball, I took a quick look, I saw Wondo making the run and I tried to put the pass in where he was. And he’s a great finisher.”

It was a winning debut for Quintero, whose addition was only officially announced two weeks ago. The 5-foot-5 winger lined up on the right wing, where he had more touches (on a per-minute basis) than all but one other member of San Jose’s front six.

Quintero had a nice turn inside Colorado’s area just before halftime, but his left-footed shot from 16 yards was blocked by a sliding Sjoberg. There was nothing, however, that Sjoberg could do in the 46th minute once Quintero deadened Amarikwa’s pass with his right foot, then cocked it again to find Wondolowski unmarked at 11 yards.

It was a moment of calm that paid off after a frenetic opening 45 minutes.

“We came in here [at halftime] and we said, ‘Take a deep breath when you have the ball,’” Wondolowski said. “You want to go a million miles an hour, you want to score 74 goals in the first half. You want to win the game in the first minute, when you just need to go out there, take your time, connect the passes. . . .

“Alberto just put it on a platter. It was a great ball by him and I was able to tap it in.”