It was a storybook outcome for San Jose Earthquakes new head coach Mark Watson as his team pulled off an inspiring 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO.
The much-needed victory broke the Rapids’ six-game unbeaten streak and ended San Jose’s own run of four winless matches. The win was especially poignant for the Earthquakes as it was Watson’s first game as head coach after former coach Frank Yallop parted ways.
San Jose struck first at the 11th minute when striker Steven Lenhart found the back of the net past the outstretched Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin on an assist from forward Alan Gordon. The Quakes got another unexpected assist from Colorado midfielder Atiba Harris at the 18th minute when he received a red card on a hard leg tackle against Gordon.
The Quakes capitalized on the man-up advantage when midfielder Rafael Baca found a wide-open Sam Cronin on a through ball for a 2-0 lead.
The Rapids didn’t lay down however, as midfielder Brian Mullan’s cross at the 67th minute found fellow mid Nathan Sturgis for a header past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
With the gap narrowed, the Earthquakes found themselves on their heels, instead of attacking the Rapids man-down situation. The Rapids controlled possession for the remainder of the match, but could not convert as midfielder Hendry Thomas and forward Edson Buddle narrowly missed on two scoring opportunities.
The match was tinged with controversy afterward when Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja and Watson had to be separated over an argument on the physical play after Harris’ tackle.
The Earthquakes travel to play D.C. United Saturday night at 4 PM Easter time.