American and Association football met in Santa Clara, as the San Jose Earthquakes took on Seattle Sounders FC in an opening event match up at the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, on Aug. 2.
Although not without first day glitches (some concession stands running out of food, parking troubles, long lines, etc.), the game itself was everything the 48,765 fans in attendance could ask for as the last place Quakes took on first place Seattle and battled to a 1-0 victory. The win, however, did not come easy for San Jose, as the Sounders controlled possession for over nearly 60 percent the match.
Forward Yannick Djalo took the first shot of the night, sending the ball wide in the 5th minute. Sounders’ star forward Clint Dempsey took a shot a minute later that was blocked by Quakes’ keeper Jon Busch. Seattle maintained control throughout the midfield and the Quakes kept trying to pull it together, likely attempting to get their feet under them on the new pitch.
Seattle took six shots to San Jose’s four, but the only one that mattered was the one that came near the end of the first half. Sounders’ keeper Stefan Frei kicked the ball away in the 42nd minute. Defender Jordan Stewart picked up the loose ball and passed it to midfielder Shea Salinas who deflected it to forward Chris Wondolowski at midfield. Wondo centered the ball and pushed it up to the speedy Djalo, who was racing toward the goal. Frei came out of the net, advancing all the way to the top of the penalty box where he and Djalo were one-on-one. Djalo’s strike, which came off the outside of his right foot, went just under Frei’s lifted left leg and rolled into the net for the only goal of the night.
“It was a great pass from Wondo,” said Yannick, “and I saw the goalkeeper coming out. I thought he would just because he saw the game last week, so I put it low and it went in. I was glad to hep the team get an important win tonight.”
Djalo’s attempt to double the score in the 61st went wide, a missed opportunity that caused the striker to leave the match with a quad strain. Dempsey’s bicycle kick equalizer attempt in the 69th went just over the net. Seattle had multiple missed opportunities, most of which came on the quick, head’s up play by Busch. But, perhaps the biggest missed opportunity for Seattle came in the 85th minute.
Seattle was granted a corner kick, taken by midfielder Gonzalo Pineda. Forward Chad Barrett, reached the sailing ammunition first, whipped his head and sent it hurling toward the goal. Busch dived to attempt a save, but Wondo, who was standing at the post was there with a header of his own, one that cleared the ball back into play and saved the Quakes’ lead. Even with five additional minutes of stoppage time, Seattle was unable to even the score, and as time trickled off the clock, the Quakes relished in victory as the Great America fireworks colored the evening sky.
San Jose’s win, along with Chivas USA’s loss, puts the Quakes in ninth place, while Seattle still sits in first. The Quakes play at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Aug. 8. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on NBC Sports.