Two late strikes from Vako pushed the San Jose Earthquakes past the Sacramento Republic by a 4-3 score at Avaya Stadium on Tuesday night in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open contest that had serious fireworks early.
The teams combined for three goals in the first 15 minutes, with Sacramento taking leads in the 2nd and 14th minutes, the first from a Sam Werner finish and the second from a Villyan Bijev free kick. In between, Magnus Eriksson tied the score with a powerful left-footed strike for San Jose.
The Earthquakes were always more comfortable in possession, however, and tied the game in the 38th minute after the active Tommy Thompson won a penalty kick that Cristian Espinoza fired into the top of the net.
Despite seeing Florian Jungwirth leave the field due to injury, San Jose piled on the pressure as the second half wore on, until Eric Calvillo hit the crossbar from a corner kick and the ball caromed out of the penalty area to Vako, whose left-footed shot took a deflection off Jordan McCrary to beat Republic goalkeeper Josh Cohen.
Vako added what seemed like an insurance tally from an Espinoza through ball, but it proved the decisive goal after Drew Skundrich struck for Sacramento deep in stoppage time.
- 2' – SAC – Sam Werner | WATCH
- 10' – SJ – Magnus Eriksson | WATCH
- 14' – SAC – Villyan Bijev | WATCH
- 38' – SJ – Cristian Espinoza (PK) | WATCH
- 78' – SJ – Vako | WATCH
- 91'+ – SJ – Vako | WATCH
- 93'+ – SAC – Drew Skundrich | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: San Jose always keep it interesting. Despite a reserve-laden lineup and two early deficits, the Earthquakes never panicked and always appeared in control of the game, even if they left it a bit late. Minutes for Siad Haji, Tommy Thompson at right back, Eric Calvillo, Luis Felipe and a competitive Earthquakes debut for 15-year-old Cade Cowell all bode well.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Tommy Thompson had been victimized by Sacramento's early attacks and was beaten to a deflection by Sam Werner on Sacramento's opening goal. But he kept getting forward and kept proving dangerous, drawing the tying penalty kick in the 37th minute when forcing Republic attacker Villyan Bijev into an uncomfortable defending posture.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It was Florian Jungwirth's premature exit, in the 55th minute, that brought Vako into the game, with Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda opting to shift Luis Felipe to center back in order to get the Georgian Designated Player on the field. It paid off, as Vako seemed to bring the disparate parts of the San Jose attack together and fully deserved the deflected winner and the insurance tally.
- SJ: June 18-23, Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Round of 16
- SAC: Sat., June 22 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks (11 pm ET | ESPN+)