After two weeks of preseason training in Cancun, Mexico, the San Jose Earthquakes took a detour on their return to the Bay Area, stopping in Nevada for a Saturday friendly against their USL Championship affiliate, Reno 1868 FC. It was not the layover they were looking for.
Courtesy of an early goal from Raul Mendiola, Reno never looked back and went on to shock the Quakes at Greater Nevada Field 3-0. Seth Casiple and Danny Musovski each scored before halftime, and the Reno defense did the rest in a scoreless second half to preserve the victory.
The Earthquakes, playing a 4-4-2, featured four of their offseason signings in the starting lineup, as head coach Matias Almeyda looked to his newcomers to make a difference. Goalkeeper Daniel Vega, defender Marcos Lopez and midfielders Cristian Espinoza and Judson were joined by a host of Quakes regulars, including captain Chris Wondolowski, in the Quakes’ second friendly of the preseason. The team played to a a 1-1 draw with Cancun club Pioneros the week before.
Almeyda did not have his full squad available Saturday. Last year’s leading scorer, forward Danny Hoesen, is currently working on securing his Green Card ahead of the start of the MLS season. Hoesen, the team’s 2018 MVP, is expected to be back with the team in the next week.
San Jose was put on its back foot early by the home side. Reno controlled possession from the opening whistle. Vega made a sublime save in the opening minute, but he could do nothing on Mendiola’s shot in the fourth minute. The former LA Galaxy Homegrown player sidestepped a tackle by Judson and slammed the ball into the back of the net.
The Earthquakes showed more signs of life on the restart, with Nick Lima — fresh off his head-turning performance with the U.S. men’s national team in its January camp — testing Reno goalkeeper Matt Bersano twice, and Vako having an opportunity of his own to level the score.
Instead, with San Jose owning more of the ball and settling into a possession game in Reno’s side of the field, the home side awaited its chance to counterattack. They found it just before the 30 minute mark, when Musovski, scampering down the left side of the field, found Casiple across the area for an easy goal. It was a bit of lackadaisical defending from the Earthquakes, and Reno easily doubled its lead to 2-0.
It was Musovski’s turn to add his name to the scoresheet in the 41st minute, as Brian Brown, who earned the assist on the first goal of the game, added another, eluding Vega inside the area and slotting the ball to Musovski for Reno’s third goal of the day. It was a dream first half for the hosts, as they burnt the Quakes again and again in transition, and coach Ian Russell’s men had the better of Almeyda’s over 45 minutes.
Both coaches brought in a raft of new faces to start the second half, with the Earthquakes featuring an entirely new eleven. The younger group of players certainly played with more energy, lead by Jackson Yueill in midfield and Tommy Thompson and rookie Siad Haji on the wings, but Reno was not phased.
The best scoring opportunity for either side came in the 50th minute, when Tyler Collishaw was fouled in the box by Florian Jungwirth, but the forward pulled his PK wide of the target, saving San Jose blushes.
Cade Cowell, the recently signed 15-year-old Homegrown Player, nearly scored his first goal for the Quakes in the 57th minute, muscling his way onto the ball in the area and blasting a right-footed shot that hit the side netting. He had few other opportunities to score the rest of the afternoon, and San Jose couldn’t break the shutout.
The Earthquakes return to the Bay Area for a week of training before continuing with their preseason friendlies next weekend at Los Angeles FC. San Jose concludes its preseason schedule the weekend after when it hosts the Seattle Sounders at Avaya Stadium.