Earthquakes silence Sounders in Levi's Stadium opener

Earthquakes silence Sounders in Levi's Stadium opener
August 2, 2014, 10:15 pm
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Yannick Djalo shrugged off his defender and coolly side-footed the ball past the advancing Seattle keeper to give San Jose the games only goal. (AP IMAGES)

Having closed out one 49ers venue, Candlestick Park, with a spirited performance that held Spanish La Liga champions Atletico Madrid to a 0-0 tie in 93 minutes of open play, San Jose Earthquakes opened the new 49ers $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara with a stellar performance against the Seattle Sounders.

With a finely struck goal by Yannick Djalo, San Jose won 1-0 in a feisty, fast paced game on Saturday night.

San Jose enjoyed the almost unique luxury so far this season of fielding an unchanged team from the one that beat Chicago Fire last week 5-1. Djalo and Chris Wondolowski up front ahead of Salinas, Pierrzi, Cronin and Harris in a 4-4-2 formation.

Seattle, anxious to put last week’s 3-0 loss to LA Galaxy behind them, started Martins and Dempsey at the front with a defense that boasted USMNT defender DeAndre Yedlin, but for a second game without key defender Chad Marshall whose slot was taken by Zach Scott.

San Jose started out moving the ball well and in the 4th minute Djalo had a strong shot fly just wide of the post. Seattle were passing the ball every bit as efficiently and on 6 minutes Busch made a great save from a shot by Clint Dempsey set up by an incisive ball into the area.

When Seattle held a high line they restricted San Jose to chasing possession in midfield and this allowed the Sounders to penetrate the area. But the San Jose defense held firm and managed their own forays into Sounders territory. With 15 minutes gone the game was finely balanced with both teams playing at the top of their game.

On 18 minutes, Bernardez booked for foul on Martins but the resultant free kick was easily cleared. After 20 minutes Seattle’s passing was a little crisper and San Jose looked a tad less hungry than last week to chase down the ball.

On 23 minutes Harris went one on one with Sounders keeper to force a corner but without the big Lenhart target the ball flew over everyone to result in a rescued ball that Cronin shot woefully high and wide. Lenhart who had knee surgery yesterday is expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

On 27 minutes Harris went down clutching his knee after a tangle of players collided on the edge of the Sounders area. Harris limped off the field for a couple of minutes but came back on intent on running off the knock. On 30 minutes the Quakes gave the ball away carelessly that resulted in Pineda having a great shot fly just wide of Busch’s dive and the far post.

Into the last 15 minutes of the first half Seattle stepped up the pace and with Quakes too often giving the ball away San Jose were forced into some frantic defending.

On 42 minutes Wondolowski played a superb long chipped ball from the halfway line right into the path of Djalo who shrugged off his defender and coolly side-footed the ball past advancing Seattle keeper Frei to put San Jose 1-0 up.