D.C. United took one on the chin late tonight, as San Jose Earthquakes beat them 4-1 in what is the Black-and-Red’s only west coast trip in 2021. Jackson Yueill struck twice, including a wonderful goal late in the second half, while young star Cade Cowell finished with one goal and two assists.
United has been short much of its roster all season, and had a surprise in store to compound that problem, as both Russell Canouse and Nigel Robertha did not travel due to what Steven Goff of the Washington Post reported as “minor setbacks.” As a result, Hernán Losada had just 16 players in total to call on, with homegrown midfielder Moses Nyeman replacing Canouse in the only change to the starting eleven.
The strange nature of such a late kickoff was only amplified, as United faced a 1-0 deficit just 54 seconds into the match. Junior Moreno took a risk, dummying a pass from the back, but it went right to San Jose, and the Quakes pushed a wave of blue shirts forward as a result. Cade Cowell drew the defense before sliding the ball to his right, where Chofis Lopez was given plenty of time to eventually bend a 22-yard effort around Chris Seitz and into the bottom corner.
San Jose had the better of a sloppy United side in the first 20 minutes, but just as United started to possibly settle into the match, they fell down 2-0. San Jose’s attempt to move out of their own end was initially blocked by a Nyeman interception, but after a bit of pinball, Cristian Espinoza found a way out with a long pass up the right wing to Cowell.
With United having pushed so high to press, it cut out virtually everyone in white, with Cowell in a footrace with Frederic Brillant. The speedy 17-year-old continued his run of form, sprinting past Brillant before tucking a shot past Seitz at the near post in the 26th minute.
United’s start had been poor, but they stunned the Quakes with a 31st minute goal. Edison Flores sent his corner to the back post for Brendan Hines-Ike, who nodded the ball down into the goalmouth. JT Marcinkowski didn’t react well, and though the lurking Yamil Asad couldn’t get a foot on it, Tony Alfaro scored his first goal for the Black-and-Red by thumping the ball in amid the chaos.
San Jose nearly had a corner kick goal of their own, with a short routine eventually seeing Paul Marie denied by a wonderful save from Seitz just three minutes later. That moment may have helped United lift themselves, as in the next five minutes Hines-Ike was robbed by an excellent block from Tanner Beason, and Edison Flores fired over after carving out room to shoot.
The sides continued to trade big chances. A routine from United on a corner had San Jose in deep trouble, but Asad’s shot attempt was scuffed, allowing the Quakes to break out. Espinoza, in seemingly alone, rounded Seitz only for Nyeman to make a full-field sprint to hack the ball clear in front of an empty net.
That wasn’t enough to keep the Black-and-Red within one, though, as they fell behind on a Jackson Yueill wondergoal in the 43rd minute. United never truly cleared the corner following Nyeman’s saving play, and the ball rebounded towards the top of the box. From around 25 yards, and despite slipping, Yueill cracked a thunderbolt through traffic that flew past Seitz.
In an effort to change the game and lift his side, Losada made two substitutions at the break, removing Moreno and Asad in favor of Felipe Martins and Adrien Perez. For Felipe, the return to action was a first since tearing his ACL late last August.
United had to wait quite some time before they created a big opening, though. Pressure in the 84th minute from Erik Sorga and Gressel saw Marcinkowski play the ball right at Gressel inside the Quakes box. Gressel teed Sorga up for a sitter, but the Estonian kept his shot low, allowing Florian Jungwirth to slide in and prevent a sure goal. United had another look, but Sorga mis-hit that shot.
Soccer can be cruel to the wasteful, and so it was when San Jose put the game to bed just a minute later. San Jose worked a rare spell of possession into getting Cowell the ball in space down the right. Cowell made his way into the box before floating a delicate chip to the back post, where Yueill’s downward header had enough on it to beat Seitz.
Now 1W-0D-2L on the season, United will finish up a set of three straight road games next Saturday, when they face the defending MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew in Ohio, with kickoff scheduled for 1:30pm.
MLS Regular Season - Game 3
San Jose Earthquakes 4 (C. Lopez 1, Cowell 26; Yueill 43, 85)
D.C. United 1 (Alfaro 31)
San Jose (4231): JT Marcinkowski; Tommy Thompson (Luciano Abecasis 71), Florian Jungwirth, Tanner Beason, Paul Marie (Marcos Lopez 71); Eric Remedi, Jackson Yueill (C); Cristian Espinoza (Shea Salinas 80), Chofis Lopez (Judson 71), Carlos Fierro (Andy Rios 71); Cade Cowell
DCU (3421): Chris Seitz; Brendan Hines-Ike, Frederic Brillant (C), Tony Alfaro (Andy Najar 60); Julian Gressel, Moses Nyeman (Kimarni Smith 86), Junior Moreno (Felipe Martins 46), Joseph Mora; Yamil Asad (Adrien Perez 46), Edison Flores; Erik Sorga
San Jose - Marie 35, C. Lopez 69, Remedi 88
DCU - Alfaro 18, Nyeman 68