SAN JOSE – Cristian Espinoza is well on his way to becoming the most productive passer in San Jose Earthquakes history. But on Saturday the Argentinian winger showcased his long-range shooting, propelling the Quakes to their first two-game winning streak in a year and a half.

Espinoza’s goal from 20 yards out in the 78th minute was the only score in the Quakes’ 1-0 win over Colorado at PayPal Park. Another attempt even further out was tipped onto the crossbar by Rapids keeper William Yarbrough in the first half.

Espinoza’s dangerous shots from outside the box gave the Quakes (2-1-0, 6 points) another scoring option besides striker Jeremy Ebobisse, who has scored 19 of the team’s 56 goals over the past two seasons.

It also showed off another side of a player whose 47 assists are three away from the club record set by Shea Salinas – despite playing just 123 games to Salinas’s 375.

Espinoza, who had an assist in each of the team’s first two matches, has the second-most assists in MLS since joining San Jose from Villarreal before the 2019 season, behind only 2021 MVP Carles Gil of the New England Revolution (50).

What a start to 2023 for @CriisEspinoza7! pic.twitter.com/r4WvKVbwSj

— San Jose Earthquakes (@SJEarthquakes) March 12, 2023

“Cristian is a workhorse,” first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez said. “Every ball, every play, every second, every inch matters to him, and what a great leader in terms of intensity. Yes, he’s very talented obviously but he makes that talent count because of his mentality to work hard and work for his teammates.”

San Jose dominated possession on Saturday but through 77 minutes had only taken a total of three shots on goal. That’s when Espinoza saw five Colorado defenders in the box and thought he was better off shooting from outside the penalty area. He connected into the top right corner, just inside the crossbar.

If the Quakes end up making the playoffs this year, it will be because of games like this recent eight-day stretch, when they got the full six points at home against two inferior opponents. After beating winless Vancouver 2-1 last Saturday, it ensured the Rapids (0-2-1) stayed scoreless on the season.

The Quakes had a 60-40 edge in possession against both Vancouver and Colorado, but Gonzalez said it wasn’t enough to have possession – the team needs to convert that into scoring opportunities. That’s where Espinoza came in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Espinoza unveils rare scoring touch in Earthquakes’ 1-0 win over Colorado

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