Red Bulls Steamroll Earthquakes

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

By BRIAN TRUSDELL

Red Bulls logoHARRISON, N.J. — Sean Davis, Sacha Kljestan and Felipe Martins all scored their first goals of the season and Daniel Royer added a pair late to give the New York Red Bulls their fifth win in their last six outings, 5-1, Wednesday night over the San Jose Earthquakes.

Davis scored in the 38th minute, Kljestan and Martins added their goals two minutes apart midway through the second half and Royer tacked on his pair in the 90th and 92nd minutes to push the Red Bulls over the .500 mark (9-8-2, 29 points) for the first time since losing to Philadelphia on May 6.

“Yeah, I think we’re hitting our stride,” Kljestan said. “I think guys are starting to feel good, and I think the guys feel really comfortable. [Red Bulls coach] Jesse [Marsch] has said this formation has put more guys in better positions to succeed and I agree with that. I think we have better options to play out of the back and we’ve just been playing better lately.”

Davis, the 24-year-old midfielder from Long Branch, N.J., just down the Garden State Parkway from Red Bull Arena, was making fourth straight start – including U.S. Open Cup – and scored his third career goal and first since last August against the Galaxy.

Kljestan sent the ball wide to Connor Lade, who played a perpendicular pass into an unmarked Davis inside the penalty area. Davis was so unmarked he had time to take a touch with his right foot and pivot before hitting a left-footed drive into the near upper 90.

The goal came four days after former roommate Matt Miazga scored a goal in the U.S. national team’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua, a strike that enabled the United States to get an easier quarterfinal opponent. Davis spoke to Miazga after the goal and now has something to brag about.

“I probably won’t text him first. I’ll play a little harder to get,” Davis said. “But I think he’ll end up texting me and I hope he watches it.”

The match could have been a preview of the U.S. Open Cup final. Should both teams win their semifinal matches, the Red Bulls against either Miami (Aug. 9) or FC Cincinnati (Aug. 15) and San Jose against Sporting KC (Aug. 9), the two would meet at Red Bull Arena on Sept. 20.

Photograph by Matt Kremkau

Daniel Royer scored two late goals.

The Red Bulls had the better of possession and chances in the first half, the best being when Davis beat Cordell Cato to a 50-50 ball at the edge of the penalty area, heading it over his head and closing on Bingham before his attempted toe-poke was blocked over the line by the San Jose keeper.

But the second half belonged to New York.

Kljestan added the insurance goal in the 73rd when he ran on to Gonzalo Verón’s cross — that was deflected through the penalty area by Simon Dawkins – and buried it from the penalty spot into the low-right corner.

“Yeah, finally, right,” said Kljestan, who had 14 goals combined in 2015 and 2016 but hadn’t scored since October against Philadelphia. “It was about time. I had a couple of good chances in the last few games that I didn’t put away. I had a decent shot from outside the box that I just put over the bar.

Martins then scored taking a short ball from Kljestan just outside the area, dribbling to the arc and hitting a right-footed shot that Andres Imperiale deflected with an outstretched right leg and arced past Bingham.

Second-half sub Valeri Kazaishvilli pulled San Jose (7-8-5, 26) within 3-1 in the 88th, but Royer overcame the late blemish with by scoring his sixth and seventh goals of the season.

On a night when the temperature at kickoff was a steamy 92 degrees with 42 percent humidity, it took six minutes before anyone attempted a shot (Andrés Imperiale) and another three minutes before Kljestan put the first one on target – a bouncing effort from distance that San Jose keeper David Bingham easily covered.

Both teams were missing significant personnel due to the Gold Cup. New York was without Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica) and Michael Murillo (Panama), while San Jose had to compensate for the loss of Anibal Godoy (Panama). Additionally, the Red Bulls still didn’t have the services of the hobbled Aurelien Collin while the Quakes were without suspended players Kofi Sarkodie and Victor Bernardez.